Football fundraiser kicks off to help three-year-old Archie beat cancer
A dramatic penalty shoot-out is guaranteed when two teams of celebrity footballers go head to head to raise money to help a three-year-old boy with a rare form of cancer.
Dan Osborne, Jake Quickenden and Jamie O’Hara are among the famous faces playing in the football fundraiser for Archie Wilks, from Saffron Walden, Essex, who is being treated for neuroblastoma.
And the trio, along with Matt Lapinskas, Sam Faiers’ boyfriend Paul Knightley and Billie Faiers’ husband Greg Shepherd, are expected to take part in a post-match penalty shoot-out.
Archie is expected to attend the match with his identical twin brother Henry, who is not affected by neuroblastoma.
Family and friends are trying to raise £200,000 to take the Tottenham Hotspur fan to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York for a trial vaccine treatment, which may prevent the cancer from returning once Archie is in remission.
Archie’s parents, Simon and Harriet Wilks, have been told that almost half of children who successfully complete treatment for neuroblastoma will relapse and, of those whose cancer returns, nine out of 10 will not survive.
Mr Wilks told PA that enabling Archie to try the vaccine treatment would “allow us all to know we have done everything possible to give Archie the best chance at life”.
More than £80,000 has already been raised through a family fun day, quiz night and sponsored events, and it is hoped the match on Sunday July 21 at Saffron Walden Town Football Club will give the campaign a further boost.
Quickenden, who lost his father Paul and brother Oliver to cancer, said: “I know first hand just how devastating it can be.”
“I want to see as many people as possible come out and help to support Archie and his family, I’m sure it will be a great day and an emotional one,” he told PA.
Quickenden, Kieran Hayler and Cliff Parisi are among the well known names who are due to play for Archie’s Journey Celebrity FC.
Heavy D from Storage Hunters is the team manager, with Diversity dancer Sam Craske as head coach.
They will face Archie’s Celebrity Army XI who will be captained by Archie’s father with Neil “Razor” Ruddock as player/manager and Lapinskas and Osborne among the squad.
Ruddock said he will have “the loudest voice in the ground” to cheer on his team adding: “I don’t like losing, charity or no charity.”
The match has been organised by Mr Wilks’ best friend, Daniel Pope, who will captain Archie’s Journey Celebrity FC.
Mr Pope, 30, a father of three from Church Langley, Harlow, Essex, said: “We must remember what today is all about and that is Archie Wilks – the bravest boy in the entire world.
“I want to thank every single person and company who has helped me to organise this amazing day and the love shown to Archie and his family has been nothing short of unbelievable.
“Let’s raise as much money as we can for Archie.”
Mr Pope, who works in car insurance as a team manager, said Archie’s parents and twin brother were “a true inspiration to us all”, adding that he hoped they could relax and enjoy the day.
To book tickets for the football match (£11.25 for adults, £8 for under 16s) visit www.skiddle.com/whats-on/Cambridge/Saffron-Walden-Town-Football-Club/Archies-Journey-Celebrity-Charity-Football-Match/13556597/.
To donate visit: www.justgiving.com/campaign/Archiesjourney.