SUNDERLAND star Craig Gardner became a family’s hero after a chance meeting with a toddler battling a rare disorder.
The Black Cats midfielder has offered to provide two-year-old Danyl Brough with special clinical equipment to help the youngster, who has Charge syndrome.
Danyl has a weak heart and is deaf. He is unable to eat solid food and has mobility problems.
But thanks to the footballer, Danyl’s family will be able to buy a special harness that will enable him to sit up straight.
Craig insisted on paying the £500 cost of the chair after meeting the family during lunch at Selfridges, in Birmingham, after one of Danyl’s regular appointments at hospital.
Danyl’s mum Leanne, 29, of Staffordshire, said: “We were having lunch and Craig was sitting nearby.
“I didn’t even know who he was at first because I don’t watch football.
“His little girl was interested in Danyl and we got talking.
“His wife Lexie said how much she’d love to have four children like us.
“He asked if there were any charities involved with Danyl’s care and we said that there weren’t.
“He immediately said he was going to go to the cash point and get the money out there and then.
“We had to tell him not to at least four times before he would listen.”
The families swapped numbers and within days, Craig was in touch again, insisting he paid for the equipment.
“He was wonderful and so caring,” said full-time mum Leanne.
“He meant everything he said. We just feel so incredibly lucky.”
Danyl’s dad James, 34, added: “It’s not something you expect to happen to normal families just going about their business.”
The £500 will go towards buying Danyl a special supportive harness, similar to a baby bouncer.
Craig said: “We were in the restaurant and my wife and I were both extremely moved by Danyl’s plight.
“They are such a lovely family and I thought if there was anything we could do then we should.
“I wish them all the best and hope the equipment will go some way to making Danyl’s life a little easier.”
Danyl was diagnosed with Charge syndrome at six months old.
The congenital condition can be life-threatening, but the little battler has fought on.