Marelle Thornton interview - ABC Radio - Cerebral Palsy Alliance

Marelle Thornton interview - ABC Radio - Cerebral Palsy Alliance

ABC Radio Interview

Marelle Thornton AM, and Geoff Hutchison ABC Radio Perth, discuss the latest

fundraising appeal.

Geoff Hutchison: Now we know that charities and community groups are finding it increasingly

difficult to find much-needed donations to help carry out their work partly due to tougher

financial times, and well, the increasing commitment, the increasing amount of money that is

required for them to do the jobs they do. Well, a leading Australian community group has

found a pretty novel way to appeal for much-needed donations. It's taken out full page ads in

the Australian Financial Review directly asking rich people to give them one million dollars.

That's right, it just wants one millionaire to write out that much needed cheque so it can go

ahead and build a new centre to replace the one destroyed in a fire a few years ago. I wonder

if it'll work For more on that, I'm joined by Marelle Thornton, who is the President of the

Cerebral Palsy Alliance. A very good morning to you.

Marelle Thornton: Good morning, Geoff.

Geoff Hutchison: That's a bold piece of thinking to go to a national newspaper, no doubt read

by a few millionaires, and basically say to them, do you have what it takes to sign a cheque

this big, and the cheque is pay cerebral palsy one million dollars What kind of reaction have

you had so far, Marelle

Marelle Thornton: Well, it has certainly caught the eyes of many which it was intended to do of

course. And it has thrown out that challenge, I guess to Australians who are in a position to be

able to make a difference to others with the stroke of a pen. I think it has a struck a real chord

with those Australians who are perhaps looking for an investment in the future of others.

We've yet to have a signature on that cheque but we are very hopeful.

Geoff Hutchison: What kind of response have you had to the ad I know it's drawn people to it

but are you hopeful that you might - are you trying to prick the conscience of someone with a

lot of money, to say, listen - with one single gesture you can do so much

Marelle Thornton: It's not necessarily pricking a conscience. I think it is highlighting for

somebody the joy of giving and the challenge that giving might be - you might be able to take

on that challenge and have that wonderful sense of satisfaction that you've been able to make

a difference to the lives of so many. I think it's more to highlight that joy of giving, to highlight

the fact that governments can't do it all, charitable organisations can't do it alone but there are

people in a position who can make that difference.

Geoff Hutchison: Tell me about the fire that had such an impact on the work you do.

Marelle Thornton: Well, our entire North and East regional and state headquarters burnt to the

ground in a devastating fire one very sad Sunday evening. And we have been three years

getting ourselves steeled to rebuild, to rise from the ashes. We have been running a capital

campaign for the past 18 months but we are running one million dollars short to complete the

entire project. Of course insurance covered part of those costs but what we are building here is

a state of the art centre for kids with cerebral palsy, adults with cerebral palsy and their

families to give them the starting life that they deserve.

Geoff Hutchison: And how much money have you been able to raise so far

Marelle Thornton: Well we have raised very close to about six million dollars, but we are one

million dollars short of this wonderful centre being completed in its entirety.

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Geoff Hutchison: Hence the advertisement, and let me just read it - the pitch - because there

is a certain pitch involved. “Do you have what it takes to sign a cheque this big, and it's a

million dollar cheque. Being wealthy means you can do lots of things that nearly everyone else

can't. Here's another thing only you could do. Write a big cheque and we mean big. You could

be a hero to so many children with cerebral palsy and single-handedly finish off an entire

building. You see, a few years ago Cerebral Palsy Alliance experienced a devastating fire which

destroyed our centre. Since then a lot of people have written a lot of cheques. These cheques

have provided six million dollars of the seven million in donations needed to help build the new

centre. That's where you come in. You can do something the rest of us can't. Write the final

cheque.” Have you been sitting by the phone

Marelle Thornton: I certainly have. I certainly have.

Geoff Hutchison: And has there been curiosity or is it the kind of thing that someone with a

million dollars to give away will just do They probably don’t want to talk about it too much. If

they were going to ring they would just ring.

Marelle Thornton: They would. I think they would, and I think you know that the highlighting

of philanthropy that has taken place over the past couple of years, and I guess led in the

States by Bill Gates and talked about by premiers and prime ministers here in Australia.

Talking about a community pulling together and those in positions as I say that few of us are

in, you know, can do this. They are able to do this and can they just pick up that pen and do it

and know that they're changing lives. Know that they're strengthening their community as a

result and experience that wonderful joy of giving. I have heard that so often from many of

our donors the joy that they feel personally in being able to give and to assist others.

Geoff Hutchison: Marelle Thornton is my guest. She's the President of the Cerebral Palsy

Alliance in Sydney. We've talked a lot, Marelle, in the last few years about the fact that a

philanthropic tradition is alive and well in the United States and has been forever. And there

has been talk in the last couple of years of a greater sign of that kind of commitment in

Australia. In Western Australian, the governor, Malcolm McCusker, has essentially been part of

a major project to encourage those who have been beneficiaries of the good life to do more.

We talk about it a lot. Are you confident that there is someone out there, or there is a business

out there, that is prepared to sign one big cheque and feel that joy of which you speak

Marelle Thornton: Well I'm a very optimistic person and I'm very passionate about people with

cerebral palsy and their families. And I'm hoping that somebody will come forward. We'd be

happy if a syndicate could get together and make that one million dollar cheque. That would

be just as fantastic because it would then give that joy and that knowledge of helping others to

so many others. So you know - look we're just very excited about the ad. We are very grateful

to The Fin Review and very grateful to Starcom Media, especially the assistance that they've

given us in getting this ad together and getting it out there. And we're just looking for that

Australian or that group of Australians that can make that difference.

Geoff Hutchison: Well we wish you well and it's a certainly a rather striking way of seeking

assistance. Thank you for talking to us today.

Marelle Thornton: Thanks Geoff, and there's a number there that anybody can ring – 1300 136

140 - and every dollar can help add up to that million dollars. Geoff, thank you for your time.

Geoff Hutchison: No worries, Marelle. Marelle Thornton from Cerebral Palsy Alliance doing what

people in that situation have to do take every opportunity to bring an issue to a wider

audience and hope that the phone is going to ring.

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