FUND-RAISERS pulled on their footy boots to help a toddler in his fight for life.
A team from Hays Travel took part in a corporate football tournament to raise hundreds of pounds for Ryhope youngster Jack Watson.
Jack is one of only 150 children in the UK suffering from deadly Sanfilippo syndrome, which causes a range of mental and physical problems.
The three-year-old’s family has teamed up with 19 other families affected by the condition to fund a drugs trial which could prolong the children’s lives.
So far, they have raised £400,000 towards the £600,000 needed, and the £400 raised by Hays will go towards the final £200,000.
Jack’s mum Gemma Nelson, who lives in Ridgeway, said: “I’m so grateful to them for raising this money. It all helps. The MPS Society (who help families affected by the disease) have just released the first batch of money to start recruitment for the drugs trial, so all the fund-raising is finally starting to pay off.”
Because of his condition, Jack is not expected to live past his teenage years, but youngsters who have taken the drug in America are living longer.
Jack was diagnosed at 16 months old with the syndrome which gradually destroys brain function and physical ability.
Though his health is gradually deteriorating, the Genistein clinical trial could halt the condition’s progress.
Staff at Hays Travel were inspired to help Jack after hearing about his plight.
Steve Wright, training NVQ assessor, said: “The tournament, which is organised by Allied Irish Banks, takes place each year and we all pay to enter. Then whoever wins can donate the money to the charity of their choice.
“One of our colleagues is Jack’s neighbour, which is how we heard about the drugs trial, and we wanted to do something to help him and his family.”
Since Jack’s family launched their fund-raising drive, Wearsiders have thrown their weight behind the cause by organising a zip wire, sports events, music gigs, charity nights and more.
Last year Jack was awarded a Pride of Wearside award for his courage in living with the condition.