Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Soak a Scientist for MND awareness

I’m sure most of you heard about the Ice Bucket Challenge last year, in which participants got doused in water to raise money and awareness for Motor Neurone Disease (MND).
The Ice Bucket Challenge took the world by storm and August 2014 saw the most donations to the Motor Neurone Disease Association on record, raising a phenomenal amount of over
£7 million, £5.1 million of which was put into MND research. Perhaps more importantly, more people were talking about MND than ever before. SITraN took part in our own Ice Bucket Challenge which can still be seen here:

With such a success in 2014, the campaign was restarted for 2015 with the plan to bring back the Ice Bucket Challenge using #EveryAugustUntilACure on twitter. As this idea was circulating, my colleague Ale and I were chatting in the lab one day about doing another SITraN Ice Bucket Challenge and how we’d like to do it differently this year. Next thing we knew we were busy organising an event called Soak a Scientist, involving the public donating £1 to throw water on a scientist in Endcliffe Park. 

The South Yorkshire branch of the MNDA got fully involved and were fantastic in helping us with the planning and logistics of the event. Sheffield City Council member Mary Lea, Councillor for Health, Care and Independent Living, kindly agreed to come along to sign the MND Charter on the day too.

We started to advertise the event using Twitter, Facebook, posters, leaflets and internet forums. Whilst at work one day I even got a phone call inviting us to be on the local radio! A couple of days later, Ale and I were on a way down to Sheffield Live Radio to join MND Association volunteer Ann Quinn for an interview. This was a very bizarre experience as Ale and I are used to public speaking but not being interviewed! It all went very well and was great to promote SITraN, the MND Association, Soak a Scientist and to raise awareness a
bout MND. You can use this link to listen to our interview:

The next step was to keep our fingers crossed that the weather would be nice and the trusty SITraN bakers would produce lots of lovely cakes for our cake stall. They certainly didn’t let us down! I came in to work the day before the event and was unable to see my desk due to the sheer numbers of cakes on there! As always, our colleagues produced incredible cakes in all shapes, sizes and flavours.

To top it off the trusty(!) British summer gave us sunshine and warm weather all day - we were amazingly lucky. The public of Sheffield were incredibly supportive, chatting to us about MND, SITraN, the MND Association, buying lots of cakes and throwing lots and lots of water! Dozens of our wonderful SITraN scientists turned up to help out on the day along with a fantastic team from South Yorkshire MNDA. I have to say that donning a wet lab coat felt pretty awful so a huge thanks to all those who got soaked throughout the day. 

Everyone’s hard work and devotion was all well worth it as we raised a phenomenal £672.76 and lots and lots of awareness. The event was such a success that many are asking whether we’ll do it again next year… any volunteers?

Thanks to al
l the bakers, all the volunteers who helped out on the day,
South Yorkshire MNDA and most of all the Sheffield public who got so involved.

By Jodie Stephenson

Jodie is a 3rd year PhD student investigating translational biomarkers in pre-clinical models of Motor Neurone Disease. Jodie is supervised by
Dr Richard Mead and is part of the Shaw Research Group.

You can follow Jodie on Twitter @neuroruncake, LinkedIn and ResearchGate.

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