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The family of leukaemia patient Harrison Price may be divided when it comes to this weekend’s Second City derby between Blues and Aston Villa – but are certainly united when it comes to fundraising in his name for Cure Leukaemia.
Villa fan Harrison, 14, known to his friends as Harry, is still undergoing treatment for a rare form of leukaemia after being diagnosed in 2016, but has been boosted during that time by plenty of support from Villa star Jack Grealish.
And the support from family will see parents Derek and Stephanie, also Villa fans, tackle their first ever cycling ride at Velo Birmingham & Midlands, and Uncle, Paul Donlon, a Bluenose, organising another five-a-side tournament at the Glades FC in Solihull.
“All the way through Harry’s treatment, the support from Cure Leukaemia has been fantastic,” says Stephanie, from Solihull.
“They have been there when we have needed anything and all we want is for Harry to get better and a cure for leukaemia to be found so for us to support the charity is a no-brainer.
“Having said that, Derek and myself have never cycled before, so the Velo is going to be quite a challenge!
“We hadn’t even got bikes, and when I went out for my first training ride I was back home in two-and-a-half minutes – it was hard!
“But having volunteered at the last Velo two years ago, and seen the many different ages, shapes and sizes coming over the finish line, and then read about leukaemia patients like Jenna (Ostrowski) and Mark (Nicholas) riding from London to Paris, I didn’t really have any excuse, did I?
“Like many people I’m not in the best shape and have a few aches and pains, but that is nothing compared to what these people have gone through.
“Cycling has been such a big part of Cure Leukaemia, with all the challenges Geoff (Thomas) has done, and it is also helping me as well.
“As a parent of a child with leukaemia, it does affect you mentally, and getting out for some exercise has been really positive for my mental health and wellbeing.”
A team of 12 will form ‘Harrison’s Herd’ in tackling the Velo on May 12th, after which attention will turn to the Glades football tournament, on Saturday, June 8th.
“We first did the tournament two years ago and managed to raise £13,000, and Harry was certainly our inspiration,” says Paul.
“We all moan about a sniffle and a cold, but when you think what Harry and other patients have been through, that is what drives us on.
“He has been prodded around, had things pumped into him and sucked out, all the sickness, and it’s all for the right reason of hopefully making him better.
“But he never uses it as an excuse for anything, and just gets on with it.
“He was there at the first event and, although he is still under treatment, he is planning to come along to this one, which we hope will be another great day.
“We are planning for 48 teams to take part, and there will be other things going on with different stalls and music and we are planning for a really happy family event to raise lots of money for Cure Leukaemia.”
Before that of course, the small matter of Sunday’s High Noon showdown at St Andrew’s between Blues and Aston Villa.
Villa ace Jack Grealish, just back to full fitness, has been with Harry all the way since his diagnosis, including welcoming him to his house to play FIFA.
“Jack was texting Harry around his comeback last weekend and he was thrilled that he scored such a great goal,” said Steph.
“Jack has been really good for Harry because he does miss out on a lot of things that normal teenagers enjoy, but the friendship does make him very popular when he gets into school.
“Football provides so much common ground for people and I am sure there will be lots of banter flying around between the Villa and Blues fans in the family in the build-up to the game.”
“I’m not sure what happened with that side of the family,” is Paul’s response to being asked about the Blues/Villa split.
“They have strayed from the right path.
“What I would say is that Harry played in that charity game for Cure Leukaemia against Jaguar Land Rover last year, and so he got to achieve his dream by playing at St Andrew’s!
“It’s always a big game for Glades as the club is split about 50-50 – I run the open age team and we are allowed to ask for two postponements a season, and it is always the Sundays of the big derbies!”
A team of six women from Oxfordshire will be taking on Cure Leukaemia’s London 2 Paris cycle ride next June, to raise vital funds for the charity.