The GEM Appeal and how it all began
The GEM Appeal was founded in 1994 by Karen Johnson after she was approached by Consultant Paediatrician Dr Ed Wraith with a request for money to be raised to hopefully extend the Willink Unit at the Royal Manchester Childrens Hospital and to fund research into the disorder that her two sons Simon and Mike were dying from. At that time there was no treatment and no hope for children diagnosed with these rare genetic disorders and inborn errors of metabolism and very little research was being done into these diseases.
Along with Ed and a few other likeminded parents and health professionals, the fundraising began and The GEM Appeal was born.
The fundraising began in earnest and by 1999 the first £250,000.000 had been raised from numerous varied events mainly in the North West of England and the building began. Before long, the research was under way in a laboratory named after Karens sons and progress was rapid and successful.
Sadly, Karens two sons both died around this time aged 12 years but trials of treatment of enzyme replacement therapy became available to others with promising results.
As the years went by, other fundraising friends came on board with Karen and the GEM Appeal trustees and committee in Rochdale became the strength and drive for the amazing success that the GEM Appeal has become. Patrons Denise Welch and Tim Healy became staunch supporters and have contributed enormously to the success by endorsing the work that is done and by gathering support from other stars and celebrities from the world of TV . As the charity has become more well known, fundraising has spread across the country and events now are regularly organised in various locations far and wide such as County Durham, North Wales, Hampshire to name but a few.
By 2012, the Charity was proud and delighted to be able to announce that over £2 Million had been raised. Due to the research done and treatment becoming available, children and young people, who these days are diagnosed with these terrible life limiting disorders, now have hope and treatment available. In some cases this treatment is slowing down the progress of the illness but is currently by no means a cure.
Amazingly, £2 million pounds in the world of genetic research is only the start and so much more research must still be done to hopefully one day eradicate these terrible diseases that devastate so many lives. Children and young people continue to die on a daily basis just like Karens sons did and to prevent this, the fundraising must continue.
The fundraising by The GEM Appeal and its supporters is totally voluntary with no Government or lottery funding and every penny raised goes directly to the research done at the Willink unit.