Rio Ferdinand, Michael Beale and Harry Redknapp join footballing figures to record messages of support for Carrick boy Ollie
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Six-year-old Ollie Willis was diagnosed earlier this year with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML), a rare form of the blood cancer.
His family were told Ollie would need intensive chemotherapy straightaway for the next 6-9 months.
The youngster was admitted to the Royal Children's Hospital at the end of May.
Since Ollie’s diagnosis, community efforts as part of Ollie’s Army have seen hundreds of pounds raised in support of the young boy’s family.
Among them are a group of firefighters who will be taking on the Storming the Castle 10k in Carrickfergus – all while wearing their full fire kit.
Ollie’s family also thanked Carrick Rangers FC, who gifted the six-year-old a PlayStation 5 console.
And in a further boost for the football-mad schoolboy, Rio Ferdinand and Harry Redknapp joined a number of other sporting figures to record messages of support, including Glasgow Rangers manager Michael Beale and Ben Tilney from Carrick Rangers.
Also taking the time to send on their best wishes were Fleetwood Town’s Carl Johnson along with Trai Hume, who plays for Sunderland and Northern Ireland.
Taking a break from a gym workout to wish Ollie good luck with his treatment, former professional footballer tuned TV pundit Rio Ferdinand said: “I know you’ve got some treatment coming up soon, and I know you’re six years old but that’s when you’re the strongest - when you can get through everything. Good luck little man.”
Sharing his hopes of seeing the youngster at Ibrox Stadium soon, Michael Beale added: “I just wanted to send you an extra message from me and the players and everyone at Rangers to say that we’re thinking of you, and we’re sending you all our love and strength and support.”
Adding to the messages of support was former Premier League manager Harry Redknapp, who said: “Keep up the great work with Ollie’s Army – you’re doing a fantastic job.”
The clips can be seen on the Facebook page Ollie’s Army, where family members have been posting updates on the local boy’s progress.
Meanwhile, the team of firefighters taking part in next month’s 10k race are Jeanna Robb, Andy Doey, Gary Scott and Cheryl Brownlee.
While the addition of the firefighter's uniform will no doubt pose an extra challenge, the group are glad to do what they can to help, Cheryl said. "The kit is heavy and serves its purpose to protect us from extreme heat; however, it also keeps body heat in so this will be extremely intense, particularly if it’s a warm day," she added.
"We all felt it was important to do something to help Ollie and his family during this time, and wanted to do something challenging to help raise as much money as possible to help make this difficult time a little bit easier."
To donate towards the fundraiser supporting Ollie’s family, visit the GoFundMe page here.