A group of former footballers are lacing their boots back up to raise money for a County Durham teenager who was tragically struck by disease 18 months ago.
17-year-old Bethany Patterson, from Tanfield Lea, was diagnosed with Mitochondrial Disease in 2014. This is an untreatable disease which affects every cell in her body, with the mitochondria not producing enough energy for each cell to properly function.
The impact on Bethany’s life, and on her family, has been huge, with the previously energetic teenager now having little energy and often tired as well as her balance being severely impacted.
Gary Innes, manager of Willington FC in the Northern League, read a Facebook post between Bethany’s dad, Mark, and her godfather, Ben Cole – both former Middlesbrough FC footballers – and decided to get involved to help raise vital funds for Bethany and her family.
“I’m a former team-mate of Mark and when I read on Facebook about how Ben is fundraising for Bethany, it really touched me. The disease affects Bethany in so many ways and it breaks my heart to see a friend and their wonderful family go through such a hard time.”
Gary has invited a number of former teammates of his, as well as some of Mark’s friends from the world of football, to play in a charity match at Willington’s Hall Lane ground on Friday 17th June.
Former players from Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Darlington and Gateshead, amongst other clubs, will take to the field against Willington’s Northern League team.
Players taking part include Andy Campbell, a former Boro and England U21 star who now manages Northern League side West Auckland Town, as well as Jason Ainsley, currently boss at Northern Premier League Premier Division side Spennymoor Town.
Sunderland old boy and current Darlington assistant manager Brian Atkinson will also be appearing in the game.
“I wanted to do something to help Mark and his wife Natalie,” said Gary.
“Times are really difficult and they need to adapt their home to help Bethany’s life be more comfortable.”