Every season Walsall FC Foundation is able to offer many deserving children the opportunity to walk out onto the stadium pitch as our Community Mascots.
The initiative identifies deserving participants and is made possible by our friends at Free Kicks Foundation.
Their charity provides football related activities for ill, bereaved and disadvantaged children, giving them a day to remember at their favourite football club.
At this weekend’s fixture we are incredibly happy to be welcoming two very special guests, ‘Alfie and Reggie.’
10-year-old Walsall fan Alfie, and his friend, six-year-old Grimsby Town fan Reggie, unfortunately suffer from complex heart conditions with both children undergoing multiple high-risk surgeries and continuously fighting for their lives. They got to know each other due to their medical conditions and are now good friends.
The game on Saturday offers a unique opportunity to bring Alfie and Reggie together at the sport, and with the teams, they love. The two boys will be walking out onto the stadium pitch with their respective teams this weekend with Alfie representing Walsall FC in his brand-new home kit!
Alfie’s mother told us:“Alfie has always been one of kind with a complex heart condition. He has had four open heart surgeries so far and multiple other procedures and over the past 18 months things haven't seemed right.
“Our cardiac consultant went on to explain Alfie’s lymphatic vessel duct (connected to the heart) is completely blocked, a clot has been formed. This means the lymphnodes carrying the blood cells, protein etc is travelling up the vessels hitting the concrete wall and having no where to go, causing swelling, severe protein loss and low immune system.
“Our cardiac consultant said she's never seen anything like it in 22 years. Research has just started into this condition but it's still at the very beginning with only two centres world wide offering the specialist scan, but no treatment is available.”
After many conversations between the cardiac team, a difficult decision was made for Alfie to undergo his fourth open heart surgery. Despite the anticipated risks, Alfie has amazed surgeons with his recovery while keeping in high spirits as he continues valiantly fighting:
“We don't know how long, no one does, but we are praying that something new comes through to help children with this condition. For now, we're receiving a lot of help and support.
“We've been told to let Alfie continue to do what he loves and go out and enjoy, make memories like we have done all his life.”
Alfie’s family informed us of his friend ‘Reggie’ who also has a complex heart condition and is also battling difficult circumstances. Having made contact with Grimsby Town and his family we are delighted to invite Reggie to join Alfie and walk out with his team alongside his close friend.
Community Director, Adam Davy, added: “We have been working with Free Kicks Foundation for a number of seasons now.
"Their charity is such a brilliant idea and one we just had to link with. Our work, across Walsall, leads us to identify appropriate participants across the whole season and it always makes us feel so pleased and humbled to be able to offer these opportunities to children and families.
"It makes such a difference to them and gives them all a memorable day out and experience. I want to thank Free Kicks for making this possible and this is a great example of what can be achieved by the football family. I hope that both children, and their families, have a great day at the game.”
Young at Heart is a charity supporting the boys and has provided many INR machines over the years to help alleviate the pressures upon heart children and their families. They offer support and guidance to the families for checking blood levels when patients are on Warfarin medication. They have also provided many defibrillators to families and also to Birmingham Children's Hospital who then distribute these for families to keep at home.
You can support children like Alfie and Reggie by donating to the charity at www.youngatheart.org.uk
You can find out more of the great work offered by Free Kicks Foundation at www.freekicksfoundation.org