Whitchurch Alport made two sizeable charitable donations last week, one in their home town and one further afield.
Before Thursday night’s game away to St. Helens Town, Alport’s committee had decided to donate £200 towards Melissa’s Smile Fund, an appeal which Town have been supporting and has been set up to support Melissa Grace, a 13 year old girl who suffers from a rare genetic condition called Angelman syndrome.
Then on Saturday, Alport handed over another donation to Zac’s Miracle appeal fund, which is raising money for a young local supporter Zac Harris, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy.
Melissa’s Smile Fund has been supported by St Helens Town since last summer, and after becoming aware of the support Town were providing, Alport decided to help too.
The club’s press officer, Martin Wild, takes up the story.
“We knew of Melissa’s plight because like us, Town have very active social media platforms. They are trying hard to raise awareness towards the little girl’s plight, and we picked up on it from there.
“Melissa needs 24 hour care and will do so for the rest of her life as she has poor balance and movement and also suffers from epilepsy.
“One of the characteristics of AS is that Melissa has a permanent smile despite the problems she encounters on a day to day basis – hence the Melissa’s Smile Fund. It was set up to raise £15,000 towards a sensory room which will enable Melissa – who sometimes sleeps just 3 hours a night and has the additional disability of being unable to speak – to spend time relaxing when frustrations become too much for her. Her condition is only likely to worsen as she gets older.
“We should have played St Helens back in January, and were going to hand the money over to them then, but the game was postponed. We remained committed to donating when the game was rearranged, and we’re pleased that it was really well received both by St Helens and Kat, who is Melissa’s mum.
Martin continued: “We have twice supported the foodbanks initiative backed by City of Liverpool during both games with them this season, and there’s a very healthy respect between both clubs because of it.
“I sense the same thing will happen now with Town and although there has been some wonderful feedback after Thursday night’s game, it really is all about Melissa and her family, and not us. We’re a friendly, hospitable club and we like to do things the right way – off the pitch as well as on it.”
St. Helens Chairman, John McKiernan said: “St Helens Town’s support of Melissa’s fundraising started last summer, when the charity logo was chosen to appear on the front of the new playing kit of the club’s Under 18s team, who play in the North West Youth Alliance League.
“Town also nominated Melissa’s Smile Fund to benefit from the sales of our 2017 calendar which raised £300.
“We wanted to help Melissa by promoting her fundraising activities and raising awareness of her condition.
“We received sponsorship support from, amongst others, Barnoldswick Town with Melissa’s calendar project, and our main sponsors Johnsons Toyota Liverpool have also been very generous in donating a number of superb raffle prizes to assist with a couple of fundraising events we’ve held.
“When Whitchurch arrived at last Thursday’s match and told me about their own contribution, I was bowled over by their generosity. It wasn’t just the donation, but the fact that they had decided to support another club and our specific cause.
“It’s a real measure of their club and it’s something that’s unique about non-league football.”
Alport were then back on home soil at the weekend and took the opportunity to make another sizeable donation towards a fund known as Zac’s Miracle – which has been featured on the Hallmark Security League website previously.
The Zac’s Miracle appeal fund has been set up for 9 year old Zac Harris, an Alport supporter who suffers from Cerebral Palsy, to raise £40,000 for an operation that will help him to walk unaided.
Martin explained: “There’s no question that we’re building something special at Whitchurch Alport and we wanted to make a connection via the local community. We felt that it was vitally important to try and do that so that people can actually feel part of what we’re doing.
“Our gates are up over 180 per cent so it tells you we’ve been pretty successful in achieving that target. We’ve been helping young Zac Harris throughout the course of the season, and the local Homing Society in conjunction with the football club held a recent race night at the rugby club recently which raised a sensational sum of £5,000.
“A generous donation by an anonymous Alport fan added a thousand pounds to that and so 6k was presented to Mark Harris (Zac’s dad) and Zac on the pitch before Saturday’s game against Holker Old Boys.
“We’re grateful to everyone who generously donated and gave up their time to attend that evening, and also wanted to thank those behind the anonymous donation that came into the club.
“Incredibly, the Zac’s Miracle fund which stood at around £360 before we picked up on it, has now gone past £30,000! We’re all delighted to have played a small part in what we hope will change the lives of the Harris family forever”.