Stourbridge schoolboy who was diagnosed with leukaemia meets Everton heroes
A Stourbridge schoolboy who has returned to the pitch after chemotherapy treatment for leukaemia had the chance to meet some of his sporting heroes during a special day out at Everton Football Club.
Charlie Cowley, 7, his brother Jacob, dad Chris and mum Nikki were invited to Everton's USM Finch Farm training ground to meet some of Everton's first-team players.
Charlie, who plays for Stourbridge Town Football Club, met some of his heroes during the visit including Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdson, Tom Davies, Yerry Mina, Theo Walcott and Seamus Coleman.
The players spent time with the family and signed their shirts before enjoying a kickabout with Charlie and his brother. During the visit to Everton, Charlie and his brother Jacob were also presented with goodie bags including a water bottle, calendar, football, a signed first-team shirt, captain’s armband and a throw.
Charlie was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in February 2019, after his dad noticed he had become very pale and had unexplained bruises that wouldn't go away. When a small rash appeared around bruises on his arm and leg, he was rushed into A&E. He immediately started treatment and has been undergoing gruelling chemotherapy at Birmingham Children's Hospital.
After hearing Charlie's story, the club contacted his family to offer him the chance to attend a stadium tour and to meet the players in person.
Charlie's dad, Chris, said: "Both Charlie and Jacob were absolutely overjoyed at the experience.
"It was very surreal to see Charlie taking on Theo Walcott and Richarlison, and Jacob running around and trying to score against Tom Davies, who they see every week on TV.
“Charlie has not stopped talking about it since. When we put him to bed that night he asked, ‘Daddy, why did today have to end?’
"When we got home, I took a look at Richarlison’s Instagram feed, and there was a picture of Charlie and Jacob playing alongside Richarlison for all of his 2.3 million followers to see, with more than 140,000 likes. It was wonderful to see that the day also really meant something to the players.
“The club’s Fan Engagement team reached out to us when they heard about Charlie’s story and gave us all a wonderful day. Not many people get an experience like the one we had, and we are so grateful to Everton for making it happen."
Charlie has completed the intensive and consolidation phase of chemotherapy and is in the maintenance phase, meaning his immune system is almost up to speed and he can go back to doing most of the things he loves – including football and swimming. After having to spend time in a wheelchair due to the impact the treatment had on the nerves in his legs, Charlie has now recovered enough to return to playing in defence for his under-eights junior football team Stourbridge Town FC.
Chris said: "Charlie’s chemotherapy continues with daily tablets and monthly hospital visits for intravenous treatment. He still has a lumbar puncture every three months under general anesthetic, which he is really brave about.
"He amazes us every day with his determination. He has a little over two years of treatment left but he is progressing really well. We are all praying it stays that way and he can ring the all clear bell when his treatment is due to end in June 2022.”
“The strength is coming back slowly to Charlie’s legs and he is delighted to be back playing for Stourbridge Town FC. He gives every game his all no matter how long he is able to play for. To see him out there playing again is wonderful and testament to the little man’s courage and determination.”
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