Big names from the world of sport are backing a charity football tournament in aid of an Ellesmere Port boy with terminal cancer.
Doctors have been unable to rid Cameron Rowley, 11, of the disease he has been fighting bravely for three years, meaning the treatment he is receiving now is aimed purely at prolonging and improving the quality of his life.
Tragically, Cameron's mother Jacqueline is battling an incurable brain tumour – and the pair are determined to make as many special memories as they can together.
Funds to help make this possible will be raised later this month at a football competition called the Cameron Cup, when all proceeds will go to the young Chester FC supporter's family. Event organiser Andy Laird has used his contacts to drum up some high-profile support, with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Jamie Carragher and boxer Tony Bellew recording special messages promoting the tournament and raising awareness of Cameron’s situation.
Former Liverpool FC captain Carragher filmed a short message where he tells Cameron: “I'm thinking of you, mate. Keep battling. Not many people have a cup named after them so you must be something special.”
'Bomber' Bellew tells the Oaks Primary School pupil: “I think it's fantastic the way you're fighting and getting on with things, I really do. Best of luck, champ. I'll catch you soon.”
Everton FC star Wayne Rooney posed with a picture of a poster promoting the Cameron Cup, with the image being shared widely across social media.
Other people who have backed the January 28 competition include Rooney's Everton teammate Jonjoe Kenny, radio presenters Liam Hincks and Lee Butler, and ex-Chester FC footballer Matty Hughes, who was Cameron's favourite player when he played for the Blues.
Cameron with Chester FC goalkeeper Alex Lynch
Cameron has desmoplastic round cell tumour, a rare form of cancer which affects only two to three people in every 500,000. He fell ill on a family holiday in Mexico when he was eight, when he complained of feeling sick and tired. He has since undergone treatment at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and Clatterbridge Hospital, including several rounds of chemotherapy.
Cameron's story touched the heart of Merseyside fundraiser Andy Laird, who was so moved he decided to arrange the Cameron Cup. Andy has never even met Cameron but is a good friend of his dad Bren Rowley’s cousin, Michael Watson.
“Michael told me about Cameron and I thought 'I want to do something for the kid'”, said Andy, who has arranged similar fundraising events for other good causes in the past. “I knew I was going to go all guns blazing with this, but it has gone metal. The support we've had has been amazing.”
Andy has used his connections to get big-name stars to promote the competition and send messages of support to Cameron. He tracked Carragher down at the Salisbury boxing gym in Liverpool and the Reds legend was happy to help.
Andy likens Cameron's story to that of six-year-old Bradley Lowery, the Sunderland fan whose brave battle with cancer touched the lives of many people before his death last year.
“We know about young Bradley and he got a lot of press and everyone got behind him,” said Andy. “Cameron's family could do with it – a little bit of a lift for them.
“The money is going to him and he can do whatever he pleases with it. He can go on a holiday or whatever, make some memories.”
Cameron lives in Ellesmere Port with his mum Jacqueline and brother Ethan, and spends a lot of time with dad Bren and half-brothers Benjamin and Jack.
Last August, big-hearted Cameron arranged a special football fun day as a ‘thank you’ to two charities which had helped him so much – ‘Chics’ Children’s Cancer Support Group and Miles of Smiles.
The Cameron Cup will take place on Sunday, January 28 (noon start) at the Goals soccer centre on Park Lane, Liverpool. It will feature five-a-side teams of various ages, raffles and auctions of sporting memorabilia. Raffle and auction items include a signed Jamie Carragher shirt, signed Everton shirt and a football boot signed by former Liverpool forward Luis Garcia.
Andy is looking for more items to auction and can be contacted via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. All money will go towards Cameron's treatment and his family. Donations can be made online HERE.