Former Sunderland AFC player Jermain Defoe tweets heartfelt message for Bradley Lowery's birthday
Footballer Jermain Defoe has tweeted a heartfelt message to mark the eighth birthday of Bradley Lowery.
Defoe's touching relationship with Bradley caught the hearts of the nation and helped raise awareness of neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer the little boy from Blackhall battled.
On what would have been Bradley's eighth birthday today the former Black Cats striker, tweeted: "Me and @gemlowery know you’re having the best party up there today mate. We miss you every day."
Last year the footballer, who had an amazing relationship with the youngster, dedicated the OBE he was awarded for his charity work to his 'best friend' Bradley.The Sunderland-mad youngster struck up a remarkable friendship with the England striker after being invited to be a mascot for the Black Cats, and walked out at Wembley with his hero when the striker was recalled by England.
Three thousand people lined the streets of Blackhall, County Durham, for Bradley's funeral in July 2017 after he died aged just six.
Despite his illness, Bradley’s smile rarely faltered and his bravery inspired countless people across the country and beyond.
His mum Gemma has spoken of her grief and how she finds the strength to continue her work on the most difficult of days.In the wake of her son’s death, Gemma and her family set up the Bradley Lowery Foundation so they could dedicate their time to supporting other children with their own fundraising and awareness campaigns.
To date, the charity has celebrated a number of success stories in helping families hit their fundraising targets to help pay for treatment or equipment.
Bradley lived in Blackhall with his mum, dad Carl and brother Kieran. The Foundation is now based there.
Gemma said: “On special occasions, like Bradley’s birthday, my grief is overwhelming; it feels like the day I lost him all over again.
"What I’ve learned now, is that it’s OK to cry, scream or shout; it’s OK to have bad days, as long as I don’t get stuck there."
Gemma continued: “I know it will be one of those bad days, when my baby would have been turning eight, but I’m surrounding myself with my friends and family who always get me through it.
“I try to remember the good times, but also to think about all the fantastic things we’re doing in Bradley’s memory, to help poorly children and their families across the UK.”