Everton FC legends Kevin Ratcliffe, Derek Mountfield and Kevin Sheedy are urging fans to support a vital stem cell swabbing clinic at Goodison Park this weekend.
The title-winning trio are throwing their weight behind the two-day event, which has been inspired by the plight of former team-mate Gary Stevens, whose young son, Jack, remains in desperate need of a donor.
Jack, 4, suffered a cancer relapse following treatment for juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia, a rare blood cancer that affects young children.
And with the help of blood cancer charity DKMS, the club is aiming to raise awareness of the desperate need for donors by inviting fans to be swabbed and join the register.
Ratcliffe, the club’s most successful captain, said:
“It goes without saying that this is such an important event at Goodison Park.
“As Gary says, having the chance to possibly save someone’s life is an incredible opportunity. All the lads are with Gary at this very difficult time and I would urge anyone and everyone to get to Goodison this weekend. You just never know…you could be the difference.”
Defensive partner Mountfield added: “I know Gary and his family very well and it’s a heart-breaking situation for them.
“Things like this go well beyond football rivalry and I’m sure everyone on Merseyside, whether you’re Everton, Liverpool, Tranmere Rovers, or even if you’re not a football fan, will get behind this event.
“It’s quick, it’s easy and it could save someone’s life. Gary gave us all so much pleasure during his career and it’s a chance for us all to give something back.”
Irish wide man Sheedy, another former colleague of Stevens’, said:
“Gary was a fighter as a player and he and his family have got a real fight on now.
“I wish him well and I am sure that everyone, not just football supporters, will get behind the stem cell event at Goodison Park this weekend.
“Many children like Jack need a chance and someone, somewhere out there could be the one.”
The club is inviting all adult fans aged between 17-55, and in good health, to visit the People’s Club Lounge situated in the Park End at Goodison Park, on Saturday, 9 October (10am-4pm) and Sunday 10 October (9am-3pm), to find potential donors to add to the international register.
DKMS staff will take a simple and painless series of swabs from the inside of the mouth in a five-minute registration process.
If contacted at a later date, fans who have the lifesaving potential of becoming a stem cell donor will be asked to give up half a day to travel to specialist centres in either Birmingham, Sheffield or London to become a donor. All costs would be covered and employers contacted by the charity to ensure time off work can be granted for a worthy cause.
Parking is available at the stadium on Saturday, with street parking only available on the Sunday due to the annual ‘If You Know Your History’ run.
Those participating in the run are also invited to head to Goodison after and register to become donors.
DKMS spokesperson Reshna Radiven said: “Over the past year we have seen a significant fall in the number of people registering as potential stem cell donors, but as Jack’s story goes to show, the need for lifesaving donors is greater than ever.”
If you can’t make the event at Goodison Park, but still want to help and are aged 17-55 and in good general health, then you can still register online for your home swab kit, or donate towards the cost of processing the swabs, at www.dkms.org.uk/jack