Fans at the football club were made aware of the plight of 4-year-old Rio Spur after the story was shared by Richard O’Donnell, Rochdale’s current number one goalkeeper – as Rio’s dad, Tommy Spurr, another footballer is one of his best friends.
Rio has sadly been diagnosed with a Wilms’ tumour, a rare form of kidney cancer which affects about 80 children in the UK every year.
Rio has also been diagnosed with a double tumour on his lungs.
The families’ consultant has advised them that fundraising efforts maybe useful in finding Rio alternative treatments overseas or to try new therapies not yet available on the NHS.
If they are successful in achieving this funding, his chances of survival will improve drastically.
And that’s where the Rochdale community has banded together to help.
Leanne Connolly, who is a big Rochdale Fan decided she wanted to help Rio by organising a ‘wear your football shirt to work day’ where workers at the Gleeson Greater Manchester office raised over £200 in donations.
Speaking to I Love MCR, Leanne Connolly said: I have a childhood friend who got cancer at the same age as Rio, at just three years old.
“So it’s a cause very close to my heart. Also Rich is a great guy and Tommy and Rio are very special to him. Rich is one of our ‘her game too’ advocates, a campaign tackling sexist abuse in sport.”
On Saturday 17th December 2022, Rochdale face Bradford City away.
Fans have decided to choose this fixture to wear fancy dress to help raise money for Rio.
All rochdale fans are encouraged to wear fancy dress or even just a Christmas jumper or hat on the day and to ask sponsors for this.
Leanne said: “It’s been so great to see the community get together for this. One of my LinkedIn connections recently reached out to say his friend wanted to make an anonymous donation.
“This person then rang my office to ask for a bit of background info on Rio and said he would donate, to which he donated £1000.
“We also raffled off a football shirt which raised £155, auctioned off another which raised £85 and have more of these to Come.
“All proceeds for all of these occasions will be going towards funds for Rio’s treatment.
“We have created our own GoFundMe which currently has raised just over £2000, and we will be making up the difference for the percentage GoFundMe takes and giving the money directly to Rio’s family.”
We spoke to Rio’s Dad, Tommy Spur who has played for Sheffield Wednesday, Doncaster Rovers, Blackburn Rovers, and Preston.
He said: “Rio is undergoing his chemotherapy treatment at the minute and will continue this until mid march. He underwent ten consecutive days of radiotherapy under GA in September on the lung metastases following surgery in June to remove the tumour and his kidney.
“We won’t know until the end of treatment if everything Rio has gone through is successful.
“My wife and I are blown away with the kindness, generosity and determination of the people involved to help our little boy. It’s truly inspirational. We are unbelievably grateful for their efforts and support and we can’t thank them enough.”
Tommy added that rio was staying strong, despite some of the harsh side affects he had been getting from the treatments.
Tommy continued: “In himself he continues to not let any of the side affects stop him from being a truly inspiring little boy. He continues to sing and dance during his treatment at hospital, doesn’t complain and his infectious personality drives us on to do everything we can to give him the best possible chance of beating this horrific disease.”
Rochdale AFC have got behind the initiative, and are putting collection buckets out during their game vs Stockport this weekend.
They have also started a poster campaign around the ground advertising the fundraiser too.
Currently, there has been £78,881 raised of £250,000 goal.