FOOTBALLING rivalries were in full swing this weekend when leukaemia patient Harrison Price was cheering on Aston Villa’s star player Jack Grealish, and other family members were spurring on Birmingham City.
But the family are united when it comes to fundraising in Harrison’s name.
The 14-year-old, known to his friends as Harry, is still undergoing treatment for a rare form of leukaemia after being diagnosed in 2016.
But he has been boosted during that time by plenty of support from Grealish, currently in the news for less savoury reasons.
And the support from family will see parents Derek and Stephanie, also Villa fans, tackle their first ever cycling ride at Velo Birmingham and Midlands, and uncle, Paul Donlon, a Blues fan, organising another five-a-side tournament at the Glades FC in Solihull all in aid of Cure Leukaemia.
Villa ace Jack Grealish has been with Harry all the way since his diagnosis, including welcoming him to his house to play FIFA.
Stephanie said: “Jack was texting Harry around his comeback last weekend and he was thrilled that he scored such a great goal.
“Jack has been really good for Harry because he does miss out on a lot of things that normal teenagers enjoy, but the friendship does make him very popular when he gets into school.”
Stephanie, from Solihull, also said: “All we want is for Harry to get better and a cure for leukaemia to be found, so for us to support the charity is a no-brainer.
“Having said that, Derek and myself have never cycled before, so the Velo is going to be quite a challenge.
“We hadn’t even got bikes, and when I went out for my first training ride I was back home in two-and-a-half minutes – it was hard.
“But having volunteered at the last Velo two years ago, and seen the many different ages, shapes and sizes coming over the finish line, and then read about leukaemia patients like Jenna Ostrowski and Mark Nicholas riding from London to Paris, I didn’t really have any excuse, did I.
“Like many people I’m not in the best shape and have a few aches and pains, but that is nothing compared to what these people have gone through.
“As a parent of a child with leukaemia, it does affect you mentally, and getting out for some exercise has been really positive for my mental health and wellbeing.”
A team of 12 will form ‘Harrison’s Herd’ in tackling the Velo on May 12, after which attention will turn to the Glades football tournament, on Saturday, June 8.
Paul said: “We first did the tournament two years ago and managed to raise £13,000, and Harry was certainly our inspiration.
“We all moan about a sniffle and a cold, but when you think what Harry and other patients have been through, that is what drives us on.
“He has been prodded around, had things pumped into him and sucked out, all the sickness, and it’s all for the right reason of hopefully making him better.
“But he never uses it as an excuse for anything, and just gets on with it.
“He was there at the first event and, although he is still under treatment, he is planning to come along to this one, which we hope will be another great day.
“We are planning for 48 teams to take part, and there will be other things going on with different stalls and music and we are planning for a really happy family event to raise lots of money for Cure Leukaemia.”
To enter a team in the Glades FC tournament email firstname.lastname@example.org, or make an entry donation (minimum £60) at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/glades, including the team name in the comments.