Celebrity football match organised to boost Ronnie’s bid to walk freely

PUBLISHED: 08:44 19 March 2018 | UPDATED: 08:38 20 March 2018

L to R: Steve, Ronnie, Clare and Frankie. Picture: Contributed.

L to R: Steve, Ronnie, Clare and Frankie. Picture: Contributed.


The parents of a three-year-old boy from Saffron Walden who has cerebral palsy have organised a charity football match featuring celebrities in the hope of reaching their £30,000 fundraising target to pay for their son’s operation which would allow him to walk independently.

Ronnie Leys was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was two and since then he has become a keen sportsman, attending swimming lessons, dance and music lessons weekly and he is a member of ‘Cambridge in the Community’ cerebral palsy football team.

The charity football match will be at Bishop’s Stortford FC ProKit UK Stadium on Saturday, May 5, with Ronnie’s ‘Run, Ronnie, Run Celebrity XI’ playing Saffron Walden Town FC Legends.

Celebrities confirmed so far include Luke Chadwick, former professional footballer and Premier League title winner with Manchester United, and Kevin Horlock, former professional footballer for Manchester City, West Ham and a Northern Ireland international.

Mike Hassini, from The Only Way Is Essex, and Simon Searles, contestant in TV show Love Island 2017, have also confirmed they will be playing in the match.

George Gilbey, Gogglebox and Celebrity Big Brother star, and two professional boxers, Mitchell Smith and Sammy McNess, have also agreed to play.

A raffle will be held at half-time, with gifts secured from former footballers Neil Ruddock and Bobby Zamora, and cricketer Monty Panesar.

Che Chesterman will be singing Beyonce and Naughty Boy’s Runnin’, which has been chosen as Ronnie’s campaign song, as the players walk out and he is also playing in the match.

Ronnie’s parents have accepted that an operation known as selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) is the next and only remaining option which would help Ronnie walk independently.

Steve Leys, Ronnie’s father, said: “The operation costs are £20,000 and Ronnie will require extreme physiotherapy daily until he recovers fully. We are looking for £30,000 altogether which covers the operation, after care at the hospital, accommodation and physiotherapy sessions.”

Tickets for the charity football match are £5 and available from the Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre. Entry is free for under 5s.

More than £15,000 has been raised so far and donations can be made by visiting www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/just4children/runronnierun or by texting FITE67 and any amount to 70070.


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