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Report by John Edwards
Celebrities from the world of television and drama are heading to The J.Davidson Stadium early next month to take part in a fund-raising football match that could just help a young boy beat an illness that has turned his family’s life upside down in recent months.
In early April last year, little Rio Spurr’s stomach ache was put down to constipation. A few days later, after he was violently ill, it was thought the problem could be an obstruction that may need surgery.
Soon after, the search for an answer ended with the shattering news that Rio had cancer. Worse still, it was an incredibly rare variant, one that is likely to reoccur and is resistant to traditional methods of combating the disease.
With unimaginable bravery for a four-year old, Rio has since undergone a four-hour operation, scans under sedation and countless rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Months of further chemo lie ahead, but the worry for his parents, former Blackburn and Preston defender Tommy Spurr and his wife Chloe, is that, should the condition persist or return, they may have reached the end of the road - in this country, at least.
The only remaining hope would be the costly option of seeking alternative treatments or clinical trials abroad, a possible route to a cure for Rio but an expensive one.
Tommy and Chloe are not about to give up on giving Rio every chance of conquering the odds and have accordingly set up a GoFundMe page that outlines the ordeal he has been through and invites donations for treatment that could save his life.
Neither have friends of the family given up. A group of them, including Altrincham director Chris Hamlett, have rallied round and asked Sellebrity Soccer to organise what promises to be a memorable afternoon at The J.Davidson Stadium on Sunday, 12th February, with familiar names from television and the sporting world giving up their time - and, in Marcus Rashford’s case, some personal items - for this worthiest of causes.
Sellebrity Soccer specialise in staging celebrity football matches to raise much-needed funds for just such recipients, and plans are well underway to make certain The J.Davidson Stadium is sprinkled with stardust for the sake of little Rio when their latest venture kicks off.
Already, the likes of former Derby County forward Deon Burton, a friend of Tommy, who will also be playing, EastEnders star Dean Gaffney, Love Island’s Josh Ritchie and Jake Cornish, Hollyoaks’ Rishi Nair and former Altrincham Grammar School pupil Ashley Taylor Dawson and Celebrity Big Brother winner James Hill have indicated they will be pulling on their boots at Moss Lane in a couple of weeks’ time.
Many more notable names have been lined up, and to give the occasion some extra spice for Alty fans, Robins skipper Jordan Hulme and keeper Ollie Byrne have agreed to take charge of the two teams and will be pitting their managerial wits against each other from opposing technical areas at the side of the pitch.
In addition, even though he was in the midst of a World Cup campaign with England at the time, when Marcus Rashford was made aware of Rio's plight, he readily consented for his mum to donate one of his Manchester United shirts, autographed by the in-form striker himself, and some personally signed photographs.
Many thanks, Marcus, a fantastic gesture that is hugely appreciated by Tommy and Chloe, and your contributions to the cause are sure to raise valuable extra funds when they are auctioned at the ground on the day.
Hollywood actor Martyn Ford from the Fast & Furious film franchise has also indicated a willingness to take part, and while we must point out that the presence of all celebrities mentioned is subject to work commitments, we are sure to have an all-star cast on the day.
And if you have read Chloe’s heartbreaking account of what the family have been through on their GoFundMe page - not least her closing remark that “Rio has been through far too much already & a lot more to come but still he continues to smile & sing his way through this hideous disease. Rio’s infectious personality & beautiful smile are what keep Tom & I going!" - you will know you are donating to the most deserving cause by buying a ticket for the game.
Here’s how you can do it:
Tickets can be purchased on the day.
Tickets purchased online are; (subject to a booking fee)
VIP tickets are limited and include access to lounge and a meet and greet with players after the match).