As you can infer from the name Jeans for Genes Day, in the second full week of September — September 13–19 this year, the focus of this week is to raise money for research and treatment of genetic diseases like muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, and sickle cell anemia. There are actually two different and distinct organizations called Jeans for Genes — one in the U.K., and one in Australia. For our purposes here, we’ll be talking about the British version. The way it works is this — a school or business downloads the promotion pack and sets a time for employees to wear jeans and make a donation, with the entire collection sent in to Jeans for Genes to benefit Genetic Disorders U.K., who then makes grants to hospitals and other medical facilities that are working on genetic cures.
History of National Jeans for Genes Day
In 1991, New Zealander Ocean (Paul) Numan decided to do something about his son’s chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) and he founded the CGD Research Trust and Support Group. The next year saw the first instance of Jeans for Genes Day, the brainchild of Rosemarie Rymer, one of the Trust’s primary supporters. Thousands of schools were mailed and informed of the fundraising event and, in that first year, 50,000 pounds were raised.
By 1998, the yearly donation amount was 2.5 million pounds. Today, the yearly appeal is run by Genetic Disorders U.K., and their grants have been instrumental in many instances of groundbreaking research and life-saving treatments.
National Jeans for Genes Day timeline
Guillaume-Benjamin-Amand Duchenne first describes what is to become known as Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).
Cystic fibrosis is distinguished from other types of celiac syndrome during autopsy studies of malnourished infants.
German doctor Peter Emil Becker describes a genetic disease variant of DMD, Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD).
The CGD Research Trust and Support Group is founded as a charity by New Zealander Ocean (Paul) Numan.
National Jeans for Genes Day FAQs
That’s great for the U.K. version, but what about Australian Jeans for Genes Day?
Well, that’s on the first Friday of August, and it would seem to be a little simpler, with Aussies simply wearing their favorite jeans on that day and going online to make a donation to the Children’s Medical Research Institute, a charity down under.
What is a genetic condition?
This happens when an individual inherits an altered gene from their parents that increases their risk of developing a particular condition. But not all genetic conditions are passed down from parents. Some changes — mutations — occur randomly before birth.
Do certain races get certain genetic disorders more frequently?
Actually, that does seem to be the case. For example, people of African and Mediterranean descent are more susceptible to sickle cell anemia, while cystic fibrosis is more common among European-descended populations.
HOW TO OBSERVE JEANS FOR GENES DAY:
Conduct an official fundraiser
We’re reasonably sure that no source of funds will be turned away, even from U.S. or Canadian organizations who want to take part in the fun — for a serious cause. So download the info pack at jeansforgenesday.org and sign up for your fundraising toolkit so you can align your event with the official ‘active week’ in September. Then, just have your colleagues wear their jeans for the cause, collect their individual donations, and turn them in!
Raise awareness of genetic diseases
During this week, while you’re cleaning out your inbox or scrolling through your Facebook, take a second to hashtag and talk about one or more of the genetic diseases that don’t have a cure yet. For just one example, you can talk about the stem cell transplants needed to treat #SickleCellAnemia. Many of the people suffering are youngsters and they need our help.
Make a donation the old-fashioned way
Everyone loves T-shirts, especially when the proceeds go to a good cause. There are some lovely bits of wearable goods to prove your philanthropy available at jeansforgenesday.org/shop, so why not put some cash toward a good cause?
FIVE AMAZING FACTS ABOUT CYSTIC FIBROSIS:
Late spring topic
May is Cystic Fibrosis Month, the perfect time to spread information and do your part to effect change — and even share some of the other facts below.
Through thick and thin
People with cystic fibrosis have mucus that is thicker than normal, leading to trouble with the respiratory system.
An easy test?
Most infants these days are screened for cystic fibrosis and other genetic defects through a simple blood extraction during infancy — the results aren’t discussed unless something is amiss, of course.
A wide range of causes
There are over 1,800 minor genetic mutations that can cause cystic fibrosis, making it extremely difficult for scientists, doctors, and researchers to find an across-the-board cure.
“He looks fine!”
People who have cystic fibrosis don’t show visible physical defects on the surface, a fact which is belied by the ongoing special care and treatment they need to stay in the daily game of life — the lost time is significant.
WHY JEANS FOR GENES DAY IS IMPORTANT:
So many people are affected
The fact that around 1 in 50 people are affected by a single-gene disorder and 1 in 263 by a chromosomal disorder should tell us how important it is to research these illnesses to find cures. The numbers don’t lie. Too many of us are sick. It’s time to do something.
It’s an easy way for institutions to get involved
Just think, when a school gets involved in the Jeans for Genes Day movement, the infrastructure of the fundraiser is already in place, saving time and energy for the true work in question — getting people to open their pocketbooks. It seems like a simple equation — ‘pay’ for the privilege of wearing your jeans to work by making a donation, have fun doing it, and sit back and marvel when the numbers come in about how much your school raised.
It’s to benefit sick kids
We don’t think we have to add too much to this paragraph. It’s to benefit sick kids. Let that sink in. Open your heart, your hands, and your wallet, and sleep better tonight for doing it.