West Brom's James McClean stuns cancer tot's family with cash for treatment trips
Footballer James McClean has come to the aid of a Northern Ireland family after their heartbreaking story featured in the pages of the Belfast Telegraph.
Yesterday the Republic of Ireland and West Bromwich Albion winger donated £3,000 via a JustGiving page for 17-month-old Caleb Williamson, who is fighting aggressive eye cancer.
The donation to help with the costs of travelling to Switzerland for treatment came after this newspaper reported on the financial strain the toddler's parents were under.
Little Caleb was diagnosed with retinoblastoma when he was just nine weeks old and started chemotherapy a week later.
His mum Jacqueline and dad Darran, who have five other children between them, have been by the little fighter's side as he travelled to Belfast and then Dublin for treatment.
Now, with Caleb's illness taking a dramatic turn, they have to take the tot to Switzerland for specialist treatment every fortnight.
Although the medical treatment is funded by the NHS, the cost of flights, accommodation and paying household bills is mounting.
But friends have stepped in to try and raise money through JustGiving to help ease their financial burden and allow them to be by their baby's side for the fight of his life.
Jacqueline and Darran said they were in shock when they switched on their computer yesterday and saw the donation from McClean, who is from Londonderry.
They added a huge weight has been lifted off their shoulders and they can now concentrate on getting their little warrior well.
"I couldn't believe it when I saw it," said Jacqueline. "I was completely and totally lost for words and in total shock. It's just amazing that someone could help us like that.
"I kept looking at the JustGiving page in the morning when the story went out. And then, at lunchtime I saw James McClean's name and this figure. I didn't believe it was happening. He will never know how much this means to us. It will make such a massive difference to us."
Jacqueline emailed McClean's wife Erin to thank her.
She added: "To be honest I struggled to find the words. It was emotional and I didn't know what to say. I told her that I could never thank James and her enough, and that it was amazing what they did for our family.
"Erin emailed me back to say that her and James just wanted to help out, that she hoped that it helped with the travelling costs. She said my Caleb was 'a dote' and that no little baby deserves to go through what he went through."