The Zac Pearson Foundation was established by parents Todd and Alisa, whose 22-month-old son Zac passed away unexpectedly in his sleep in 2009. To honour Zac and help other parents avoid going through the same tragedy, Todd and Alisa set up the Zac Pearson Legacy which funds research into preventing ‘sudden unexpected deaths in children’ (SUDC).
Equity Trustees, are helping Todd and Alisa to define their vision for giving and how to make a difference in the long term.
Todd and Alisa share with us below, how they became philanthropists.
How did you arrive at philanthropy?
In 2009 we lost our son Zac suddenly and unexpectedly. Zac was a fun loving 22 month old toddler, full of energy and innocence and surrounded by a loving family when he died suddenly in his sleep.
We created the Zac Pearson Legacy as one way to Honour Zac and the happiness and love he bought to our family. We wanted to invest in medical research as a way to help find answers which would hopefully prevent other families having to go through what our family has been through.
We also wanted to create a lasting Legacy that Zac’s brothers could be involved in as they grow up. A way to maintain a connection with their brother and to keep his memory alive.
What would you like you’re philanthropy to achieve in the short to medium term (5-10 years)?
We are currently supporting a research project being conducted by The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research. We are helping to fund a Western Australian pre-pregnancy carrier screening research project that will screen for hundreds of rare genetic disorders. It is being offered to up to 250 couples in the Busselton region as part of a pilot study. Couples who are planning to start a family can enrol and be screened for more than 450 genetic disorders.
Our short term goal over the next couple of years would be to see this project through to completion which will hopefully pave the way for pre-carrier screening becoming available to every couple hoping to start a family.
As it relates to philanthropy, what would you say to other parents that have found themselves in a similar situation?
Philanthropy for us is a way for us to connect to Zac and work on something together as a family is his honour. It is a way to do something positive and meaningful for our community, despite our pain and sense of loss.
How does your philanthropy and the work that you’re funding make you feel?
It makes us feel proud that we can contribute in some way to making a difference. The people we have met along the long have been inspirational to us and we feel honoured to be able to connect with such passionate people in the medical research field. We have learnt so much along the way and we value what this has bought to our lives.