In September 2011, 17-year-old Robert Connor Dawes ran from his home in Sandringham to the boatsheds on the Yarra. He'd started his training for the upcoming rowing season early, as he wanted to make the Brighton Grammar 1st VIII. Not loving running, he did the 18.8 km because he was determined to be the best he could be. Little did he know that in his head was more than fierce determination: there was also a tumour growing. Connor had unknowingly begun his battle.
Two months later, Connor was diagnosed with an anaplastic ependymoma. Major surgery resulted in loss of movement to his right side, impaired vision and severe short term memory loss. His body was broken, but his mind was not. He was determined to improve and spent hours each day on his physical and mental rehabilitation. Intense radiation and later chemotherapy followed. But throughout all this, Connor never stopped smiling. He stayed positive, philosophical and true to his mantra: "I will be awesome".
At school, his friends sold t-shirts and wristbands with his name and the phrase "Aeternum Fortis", "Eternal Strength". It reflected Connor's inspiring spirit as he battled through every adversity coming his way. Now, Aeternum Fortis is our eternal reminder of the amazing person he was and the gifts he left us.
Connor's Run is your chance to show your support. It's 18.8KM that Connor ran on that day, and coincidentally his life's length. Instead of 10k, we chose his birthday 9th June (9.6KM).
The RCD Fund was created to continue Connor's legacy, and our fundraising goals are captured by his initials: RCD.
Research – Contributing funds to Australian brain tumour research.
We want to help Australian research to further understand and more completely treat brain tumours, including earlier detection, surgery and post surgery treatments (radiation and chemotherapy). Initially, the focus will be on ependymomas, later it will broaden to encompass other brain tumours.
Care – Supporting families with rehabilitation therapies and home assistance commonly not covered by insurance.
Throughout his last year, Connor had weekly music and yoga therapy on top of his standard rehabilitation. And thanks to generous donations from friends, Connor could spend his last few weeks at home. This was extremely important and we'd be honoured to assist other families wanting to do the same.
Development – Helping keep the mind sharp.
Connor was a passionate and talented student, until his brain tumour made it impossible. That's why we'd like to help with the educational needs of other young people going through brain tumour treatment, and to provide a secondary education to a gifted student who otherwise couldn't afford it.