‘Whisper’ was only mid-second-sip when the subject was broached. Like many a ball-tearer idea, Sidetember sprang from the ale tinged banter of a trifecta of blokes on stools at an ordinary pub, in an ordinary suburb, on an ordinary Sunday afternoon. On this particular whooshless Sunday in 2012, the pub was the Town Hall (The Townie) and the suburb was Newtown in the inner west of Sydney. The blokes: Worker (Stuart Matthewman), Whisper (Andrew Ryan) & RiverZ (Kieren Purnell)
Unlike the previous 68,700 best-ideas-ever incubated within the tiled surfaces of the Townie, Sidetember tickled one too many neural pathways to ignore. It festered. It nagged. Thirty-one days later, July 2, a board was in place and Sidetember was officially registered as a charity. By September 30, more than $25,000 had been raised for Brain Injury Australia (BIA). Although humble by comparison to the gazillion dollar charities, this amount was more than 8 times that BIA had received in donations the previous year. They’d done it. With no prior experience, tech skills or trust fund cash, the trio of ordinary blokes had bootstrapped their way to making a fun (admittedly somewhat unoriginal) idea a salubrious reality. The beginning had begun. And people with ABIs were on the radar. Sidetember has evolved from our sideburn growing SideGuys and jewellery wearing SideGirls of years gone by – we are excited for the next chapter – here’s to 2015 and beyond.
Why brain injuries?
In short, personal experience. It was watching our friend Terry Kennedy recover from a near fatal brain injury at age 33 – going from the hospital to running a marathon 8 weeks later – that spurred us to investigate what support was available. We were surprised to learn 2 things: the prevalence of brain injuries and of the lack of funding, public knowledge and publicity. It’s a very under-reported subject, but yet 1 in 11 people are reported to be living with an ABI.
We’re all avid amateur snowboarders, surfers, triathletes and arm-chair footy players. And some of us like flexing a little intellectual muscle too. A life without being able to move freely or think well-enough to tackle everyday life independently is terrifying to us. Considering how vital a healthy brain is for independence, pleasure, and enjoyment, we were compelled to take action.