The Fight against Cancer: 'Sports Aid' Fund-Raising Driven by Stars

The Birmingham Post (England), October 12, 2002 | Go to article overview

The Fight against Cancer: 'Sports Aid' Fund-Raising Driven by Stars


Sparks was set up in 1991 as a children's charity to fund wide-ranging medical research into conditions affecting babies and children.

Since its inception, it has provided the financial backing for more than 100 medical projects in the UK.

Research groups funded by the charity investigate the causes of diseases and conditions experienced by children in the early years of their life and the prenatal period, in the hope of finding a cure.

More than pounds 8 million has been ploughed into ground-breaking medical studies to tackle conditions such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, premature birth, childhood diabetes and spina bifida.

It also funds major research programmes being carried out into rare types of cancer affecting children in the UK.

Sparks, or Sport Aiding Medical Research for Kids, was founded by leading sports personalities who lend their support to the variety of fund-raising events held each year.

Olympic gold champions Sir Steven Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent CBE are vice presidents and Princess Michael of Kent is the charity's patron.

The aim of the charity is to give every child the chance of a healthy start in life. One child in 30 is born with a minor disability and one in 100 with a severe disability which can affect them for the rest of their lives. Sparks is working towards reducing these statistics by funding projects which will increase the life expectancy of newborns, reduce the health risks for premature babies and combat common conditions such as spina bifida and cerebral palsy.

Research already carried out through funding from Sparks has helped reduce the percentage of deaths in babies born prematurely.

Thirty years ago up to 80 per cent of premature babies died but by 2000 the figure was down to 30 per cent.

The charity is currently funding the research being carried out at Birmingham Women's Hospital into neuroblastoma, as well as projects looking into childhood arthritis, meningitis and club foot in other UK hospitals.

Every year a calendar of sports and social events, attended by sporting celebrities, raises money to put towards the vital work of research fellows and medical experts. …

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