A nine-year-old girl with cancer has received a cash boost thanks to the extraordinary efforts of a Merton FC player.
By Dominic Sutton
A nine-year-old girl with cancer is receiving a cash boost towards her battle thanks to a Merton footballer’s efforts.
Mike Reed, who plays for Southern Amateur League club Merton FC, met little Jessica Magnus and her mother, Stana on a plane earlier this year.
The three became friends and Mr Reed recently returned from a gruelling trek across the mountains of Nepal to raise money for Jessica.
“Jessica’s cause is such a worthy one that I felt I had to do something to help,” said Mr Reed. “Trekking in Nepal seemed like a really good way to raise money.”
Jessica was diagnosed with the rare cancer ganglioneuroblastoma at the age of four and has endured hours of chemotherapy and surgery.
She suffers with curvature of the spine and, although she has received treatment on the NHS, the specialised help she requires is not available for free.
The money raised by Mr Reed will go towards physiotherapy and a special back brace.
But raising the cash wasn’t easy for Mr Reed and his friends Laura and Chris.
Their 16-day trek to a height of 5,500 feet above sea level got off to a bad start when they contracted food poisoning on the first day.
Mr Reed’s team pressed on but it quickly became clear they had taken on more than they had bargained for.
“It’s not just the walking,” he explained. “It’s cold, there’s no hot water and you go to the toilet in holes in the ground.
“I’ll be honest when we were all feeling like crap, there was talk of ‘I can’t do this’, but I honestly thought ‘I cannot turn back.’
“I was completely driven on by the cause.”
Mr Reed’s party were also hit by altitude sickness and severe weather conditions.
“It got colder and colder,” recalled Mr Reed. “The day we reached the summit I couldn’t go to the toilet outside because I would have frozen on the spot!”
On his return to England Mr Reed was thanked by Jessica and her mother.
“Mike’s offer to raise the money for Jessie by doing such a challenging trek was very generous,” said Mrs Magnusova. “I want to say a huge thank you to him, Chris and Laura.
“We were told that the type of surgery Jessie is facing in the future hasn’t been done in the UK before,” she added. “It is very pioneering and challenging.”
With Mr Reed’s money and that raised by other well-wishers, Jessica and her mum will be able to afford the trip to America to begin investigating treatment.
Mr Reed said: “So many people – people I don’t even know – sponsored me.
“It’s lovely of them to put their hands in their pocket for something that is obviously such a good cause.”
To make a donation to Jessica Magnus and learn more about Mike Reed’s trek, visit: www.justgiving.com/appealforjessica.