Bradford City goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell started a Charity Auction on Twitter yesterday, for a fantastic cause, and we’re calling all Football League fans to get involved and help to really make a difference.

A friend of Bradford City’s goalkeeping coach Steve Banks, unfortunately, found out in March, news that no parent ever wants to hear. Their son, five-year-old Jacob Willett had been diagnosed with cancer (embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma) and has faced a struggle over the last five months, to battle against the disease.

The family are living in a hotel at the minute, to ensure that young Jacob doesn’t suffer and that he has the best possible chance of being comfortable, whilst dealing with battling against illness. Because of this, they are trying to raise the funds to be able to live in a hotel and attempt to give this special young man the best possible chance of recovering, whilst not worrying about the potential cost it may put on themselves.

Their JustGiving page says,

We’re inviting people to join with our son Jacob, who was diagnosed with cancer (embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma) in March, to raise funds to help cover costs associated with his ongoing treatment.

Jacob was initially approved for two months of NHS funded Proton Beam therapy in Jacksonville, Florida – but this was cancelled due to the unexpected growth of his tumour. Jacob had already completed four cycles of chemotherapy but this part of his treatment had to be revised to include a different combination of drugs, with increased likelihood of painful side effects. Unfortunately, a scan after chemotherapy round 5 (and subsequent discussions with our team of consultants) formally ruled out Proton Beam therapy as an option for him going forward – and so traditional radiotherapy treatment has now been started instead (and his chemotherapy drugs changed again for chemotherapy round 7 and onwards).

The treatment is every weekday morning for 6 weeks, at The Christie Hospital, Manchester, under general anaesthetic (and fasted) each time. Every 3rd weekend (Thu to Mon) Jacob will also have his chemotherapy at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. In order to minimise the impact on him (and ourselves), we have secured hotel accommodation near to The Christie for pretty much the full six weeks – removing the need for very early starts each day and long car journeys whilst he’s potentially in discomfort. As such, we intend to use our crowdfunding pot to cover the accommodation costs and some other incidentals associated with living away from home, with all other costs being borne by ourselves. Should Jacob require no further treatment post radiotherapy, we would then donate any residual funds to other charities / worthy causes.

If you wish to help us fundraise on this basis going forward, in any way, please get in touch. We still intend to hold an End of Summer Ball on September 28th at Preston North End FC, so if you are interested please save the date!

Thank you for joining with Jacob! 💚

PLEASE NOTE: If anyone that has contributed to the fund to date is unhappy with the current plan, please contact us privately to discuss the return of your donation.

At present, the family is looking to fundraise at Preston North End with a ball at the end of September, but Bradford City ‘keeper Richard O’Donnell and a group of players at the West Yorkshire club are also looking to make a huge difference and hopefully help towards this young mans life.

Bradford City ‘keeper O’Donnell is running a series of Twitter auctions of various items from Bradford City players, such as Jack Payne’s match-worn boots, a signed shirt and several other things.

The auctions will be taking place throughout the week – and any money that’s raised from these auctions will give the family the best possible chance of raising as much money as possible to help fund their stay in Manchester to give Jacob the best chance of recovering.

To keep up with the auctions on O’Donnell’s twitter, please follow this link: https://twitter.com/RichODonnell23?lang=en

Cancer has no colours, and we urge everybody to take a look at the families JustGiving Page which you can reach by clicking this link: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jacobsjoin?utm_id=125

Everybody at The72 wishes Jacob the best of luck with his treatment.


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Journalist for @FBL72. Mainly cover Bradford City and various other clubs based in Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

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