Ex-Dagenham and Redbridge FC player kayaks across Channel to raise £230,000 so boy with rare cancer can get live-saving treatment
PUBLISHED: 07:00 24 July 2020
A former Daggers footballer has kayaked across the Channel to raise more than £200,000 so a boy with a rare cancer can get the life-saving treatment he needs.
Charlie Holmes, who played wing back for Dagenham and Redbridge FC, paddled the 30-mile crossing from Boulogne-sur-Mer in France to Dungeness on Tuesday, July 21, following just two hours training in a kayak.
The 21-year-old teamed up for the trip with Mike Scott whose four-year-old son Liam has been battling the aggressive childhood cancer neuroblastoma.
Charlie, of Sevenoaks, Kent, said of the moment the pair arrived in England: “We were so tired and cold. But to come up on that beach knowing we have all the money we need was a dream come true. It’s probably one of the best feelings I’ve had.”
Charlie and Mike’s seven hour-long journey was the final stage in a £232,000 fundraising drive, meaning Liam’s family now has enough to take part in a US clinical trial that could prevent the cancer’s return.
The little fighter is receiving immunotherapy treatment which the family hopes will stop the disease. However, neuroblastoma has a high relapse rate with a less than one in 10 chance of surviving a return.
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The bid for funds started in lockdown after a nurse approached Charlie’s aunt Karen, saying Liam’s parents needed money but had seen their fundraising plans cancelled because of the pandemic.
After donating and delivering food to the family – they had to isolate to protect Liam – supporters turned their attention to raising the money.
Fitness fanatic Charlie, whose football career was stalled by a foot injury in 2018, started by running 10 miles a day for 14 days.
“The pain I was going through was nowhere near the pain Liam was going through,” Charlie recalled.
After raising thousands, Mike suggested the cross-Channel kayak. Charlie admitted neither anticipated what they were in for, battling waves and at one point being stopped at sea by a border patrol who suspected they might be migrants.
But they made the crossing and were welcomed home by Liam, family and supporters.
And although Charlie’s shoulders may ache, he said: “It’s all for Liam, so it’s worth it.”
To donate visit solvingkidscancer.org.uk/Appeal/liam
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