Hundred4Harper raises $100,000 for childhood brain cancer research

Almost 250 people filled a gym on Sydney’s Northern Beaches on the weekend, sweating it out in a gruelling 100km fitness challenge in honour of a little girl some of them had never even met.

That three-year-old girl was Harper Dowdall, the daughter of The Agency real estate agent, Lee Dowdall, who tragically died from a severe and aggressive brain cancer in 2019.

Helena and Lee Dowdall lost their three-year-old daughter, Harper, to brain cancer.

Now in its fourth year, Hundred4Harper is the charity Mr Dowdall and his wife Helena set up to honour their daughter and raise funds for research into Diffuse Midline Glioma through charity RUN DIPG.

Each year, people from all walks of life converge on Chocolate Box Training in Cromer to participate in the Hundred4Harper, which sees teams of four run, cycle, row and ski a collective total of 100km.

The teams also raise money in the leadup to the event to donate to RUN DIPG.

Mr Dowdall said this year more than $106,000 had already been raised and he expected that to climb to about $120,000 when final donations came in.

He said when the first Hundred4Harper was held four years ago, about 30 people participated, but this year almost 250 people sweatndred4ed it out.

“It was our fourth event and by far our biggest,” Mr Dowdall said.

“We had close to 250 participants this year, we had 76 volunteers and there were close to 500 people at the event on Sunday.

“It was just phenomenal.”

Mr Dowdall said while there was a strong real estate connection to the event, people had come from all across Sydney to participate.

“There’s a cross-section of professionals, tradespeople, men, women and all age groups,” he said.

“There’s family members and friends, people we know and people we don’t know. 

“There were people there that I’ve never met before.”

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In 2024 the Hundred4Harper attracted almost 250 participants. Photo: Hundred4Harper.

Mr Dowdall said the Hundred4Harper had become one of the biggest fundraisers on the RUN DIPG calendar and the money raised would help them research childhood brain cancer at their lab at The University of Newcastle. 

In a video shared with Hundred4Harper participants, Professor Matt Dun, who leads the lab and the Cancer Signalling Research Group, said funds from the event would be used to help families tackle childhood brain cancer.

“Here at Dun Lab, we built the world’s first spatial DIPG analysis platform, that will provide families with real-time information on which trial is right for their child at diagnosis and based on data,” he said.

Mr Dowdall said it was important to note Hundred4Harper was suitable for all fitness levels and while many participants were highly competitive in the 100km, there were also people who just wanted to have fun.

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Participants at the Hundred4Harper. Photo: Hundred4Harper

He said as well as the regular teams of four, there was also an enthusiast session with teams of eight, which means each competitor’s workload is halved.

“I actually took part as an enthusiast, not in the elite division,” Mr Dowdall said.

“It was really doable.”

Mr Dowdall said the success of the event meant so much to him, his wife Helena and their entire family.

“With Hundred4Harper, we have four goals,” he said.

“One is to raise funds for RUN DIPG, to raise awareness for children’s brain cancer, which is the biggest killer of Australian children, to build a community and to honour Harper’s legacy.

“I think this year, out of those four goals, we certainly feel that we achieved them all.”

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