Palace star Puncheon for Northern Ireland charity game in aid of brave little battler Brae
Premier League footballer Jason Puncheon will lead a team for a charity match in Londonderry to raise funds for an eight-year-old boy with a life-limiting genetic disorder.
The Crystal Palace captain is helping to generate £10,000 for Brae Sewell, who suffers from ataxia-telangiectasia (AT) and whose mother is from the city.
While Brae's tenacity has kept him out of a wheelchair for now, it may only be a matter of months before he will be unable to walk.
His parents Brian and Siobhan need to adapt their home in London so Brae can have a downstairs bedroom and bathroom, but, with no help available, they need to pay for it themselves.
Siobhan said: "I am so pleased my good friend Jason Puncheon has agreed to come to Derry for this charity match to help Brae.
"Brae was three years old when he was diagnosed with AT, which affects his muscles and balance and gradually everything will shut down, so by this time next year he will be confined to a wheelchair.
"He also has a very low immune system that I have to try and keep up so that he doesn't get leukaemia or cancers, which he will be prone to.
"There is a life expectancy of around 26 with AT, but Brae is such a little fighter.
"He battles against the odds every day.
"He really should be in a wheelchair now but he just struggles against that so he can still walk, but it is a struggle for him at times.
"At the moment Brae can manage the stairs with a bit of help.
"But this time next year he won't be able to get upstairs at all, so we need to have a bedroom on the ground floor for him, and a bathroom.
"The council over in London won't help cover the cost of the extension we need for Brae, which is why we are doing the fundraiser.
"My brother Ronan Curtis plays for Derry City and we hope he and a couple of other Derry City players will be allowed to take part as well."
Brae's biggest supporter is twin brother Brogan, who doesn't have the condition and is a talented young footballer.
Brogan, who was spotted by talent scouts and now plays for the Chelsea Academy, will be on the sidelines along with Brae for the charity match at the Gasyard Centre on July 1.
Siobhan admitted it was tough to watch her two sons together.
She explained: "It is heartbreaking at times looking at everything Brogan can do but Brae can't."
The boys feature in a video entitled A Game Of Two Halves for the AT awareness charity, set up to help families with children diagnosed with the cruel condition.
A JustGiving fundraising page has also been set up at: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/aislingkelly74?utm_id=2&utm_term=6vw5vGqMn
The charity match kicks off at 1pm at the Gasyard Centre in the Brandywell area on July 1.