Today the former members of the Belgrave Lions Club will make a major donation of over $527,000 to Asthma Australia to fund medical research into asthma.
It is the result of several decades of community fundraising. The significant gift is even more remarkable as the Belgrave Lions Club was wound up in 2004. The money stayed in trust and more than doubled in the intervening years thanks to compounding interest.
Past District Governor of Lions International and the Charter President of the Belgrave Lions Club, Ray O’Donnell, experienced the impact of asthma first hand throughout his life and was determined the Club could make a difference. Ray established The Asthma Research Fund in the 1980s.
Ray passed away earlier this year and when former members of the Club met at his funeral they realised that the funds were still in the bank.
Past President of Belgrave Lions Club, Paul Kouris, says it was a surprise.
“I’d forgotten all about it! One of our founding members, Michael Gysberts, went to the bank and was surprised that the funds had grown so much. It was very important to the Club that the funds raised are used for medical research into asthma in Victoria and with Asthma Australia they will be. We are very proud. It’s a wonderful thing for asthma research. It shows what can be done with vision and persistence.”
Asthma affects 1 in 9 people in Australia, and Paul knows it is an important issue.
“My wife is a teacher and asthma is very common in her classrooms – she has seen the rates of asthma triple in the last ten years.’”
On Monday Paul Kouris and founding member Michael Gysberts along with immediate past member Laurie Harris will present the funds to the former CEO of Asthma Foundation of Victoria, now Asthma Australia Transition Executive, Danielle Dal Cortivo.
Ms Dal Cortivo says it is a remarkable achievement.
“This is a tremendous contribution. The inspiring efforts of the Belgrave Lions Club will ensure asthma research in Victoria can continue for many years and most importantly, that we can continue to develop ways to improve the lives of people living with asthma.