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Football and fun for ill child
Football and fun for ill child

Two charity football matches and a family fun day are taking place at Flamingo Park, Cray Wanderers Football Club in Chislehurst on Sunday June 9th to raise funds for a Yalding three-year-old.

As well as two matches, there’ll be a bouncy castle, face painter, BBQ and a raffle and auction with prizes including four tickets to The Lion Kind, two VIP tickets to the Peter Kay show, signed football, darts and boxing memorabilia, as well as spa and restaurant vouchers and local wines.

Sidney Cooke from Yalding, Kent, aged three, was diagnosed with the rare genetic disorder type one spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) four months after birth.

He was treated with the £1.8m single dose of gene therapy Zolgensma – the most expensive drug in the world – shortly afterwards. Before this drug was made available, children with this disorder typically survived less than two years.

There is still no cure for SMA, but drugs and therapies help manage the condition and improve strength and flexibility. However, most therapies and much of the equipment needed is not available on the NHS, and families have to privately fund to cover what is needed so fundraising is inevitable for most families in this circumstance, given the extent of therapies needed is very expensive.

Last year’s event held in Bromley attracted more than 500 people and raised almost £7,000, and gas engineer dad Aden Cooke is hoping to beat both numbers this year.

He said: ‘The event starts at 11am, with the first kick off at midday and the second at 2pm. We’ve got about 70 players and full use of the grounds and clubhouse, so it’s a nice day out for everyone. We’re very grateful to the club for lending it to us, as well as our family, friends and supporters who are forming the teams. We look forward to seeing as many people as possible!’

Entry is £5 for adults and free for children, with no need to book in advance.

Sidney’s mum Sophie, 35, said: ‘Every piece of equipment typically costs thousands, even if we manage to buy it second hand, and obviously he is always growing and his needs are always changing.’

‘He is coming on leaps and bounds, but his progress relies on us being able to fund equipment and therapies to enable it.’

‘Currently we are trying to fundraise for house adaptions. I am now really struggling to carry Sidney up and down the stairs and dress him etc, so we have started the process of getting a through floor lift and having a specially adapted bathroom made, which involves extending his current bedroom (doing an extension) to make this happens. Of course this is not all covered by government money, so we are going to have to fundraise an extra circa £40k to make this happen.’

‘So far we have raised nearly £17,000 to help pay for therapy and equipment – there’s no way we could have done this without our friends, family and supporters.’

Sidney’s family is being supported by children’s charity Tree of Hope which helps families fundraise for children like Sidney with healthcare needs and provides charity status to benefit from gift aid, corporate support while also providing donor reassurance.

Tree of Hope CEO Becky Andrew said: ‘We’re really pleased to be supporting Sidney’s family to ensure he gets the support he needs and we hope the fun day is a great success.’

To find out more or to donate to Sidney’s fund visit: https://www.treeofhope.org.uk/ways-to-give/childrens-campaigns/help-super-sid-fight-sma-type-1/