Tuesday, January 12nd, 2016
Tonight's mascot Oskar Pycroft will walk out ahead of Bristol City and Preston North End’s players, a season after doing the same thing in his wheelchair.
It’s a story that has captured the hearts of all associated with Bristol City FC, as well as fans of other football and sports clubs.
Fundraising started by the Darren Wright Foundation began in May 2014 with the aim of funding his life-changing surgery. Just under a year later, a cheque of £57,347.62 was handed over to make a young boy’s dream come true.
Scott Wright, from the Darren Wright Foundation, said: “We were so pleased to be the charity behind Oskar's fundraising from the very beginning, when we first met with his mum Liz to start planning events and timescales.
“The events started small with race nights and collections at supermarkets, but would soon grow to extreme challenges for individuals and groups. In August I took on a boxing challenge, training for ten weeks to fight in front of 2,000 people whilst gaining sponsorship.
“Then in November 2014 we had a massive day and a real turning point in terms of coverage for our appeal for Oskar.
“At City's game against Preston not only was Oskar mascot and treated like the star he is, but his family, friends and members from the Darren Wright Foundation were allowed to do a bucket collection at the game.
“Oskar’s cheeky demeanour and the previous night’s news coverage of the collection meant the collection amassed over £10,000, with a further £5,000 being donated via our online page.
“The increased media coverage meant that online donations were steady over the next three months. Oskar's charisma even allowing him to wear his full City kit to the blue half of the city whilst we were allowed to shake our buckets at Rovers’ with Torquay, raising nearly £5,000, but more importantly uniting all football fans and with more collections at various locations.
“It was left to the biggest, and some would say craziest event, to take Oskar past his fundraising target which was relayed to him via an announcement at Wembley Stadium.
“Eleven incredible people, along with two support crew, walked from Ashton Gate to Wembley Stadium to coincide with City’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final appearance against Walsall. Two of these were actually Bristol Rovers fans!
“They walked 127 miles along the A4 over four days with just a stroll of two miles on the day of the game, which took in an impromptu breakfast and photo opportunities with the kind fire service at Wembley fire station.
“In sight of the Wembley arch, the intrepid trekkers Scott Wright, Rich Duffy, Sam Clothier, Chris Rose, Terri Bryant-Edwards, Harry Parfitt, Geoff Wager, Sarra Whitfield, Lisa Screen, Mike Lapham, Dan Wlaznik, along with support driver Taff Alexander and chief organiser Melissa Coles, met with Oskar and his mum Liz to walk the last half mile or so.
“This is where the realisation of completing the walk and Oskar's fundraising kicked in for all, with tears and hugs, but the most memorable part for the walkers was all the cheering, well wishers and donations from both City and Walsall fans as we made our way up Wembley Way with the concourse above chanting "there’s only one Oskar Pycroft" a particular highlight.
“To be able to present a cheque that not only covered his operation, equipment and therapy for nearly two years was a special day for everyone at Darren Wright Foundation. Seeing him regularly and his improvement is a testament to his bravery.
“Whilst Oskar's fundraising may have ended, our relationship with him has not as we are pleased to announce that he has kindly agreed to be our very first child ambassador.
“His bravery, charisma and experience will show the way for the other children that we will be helping aswell as being a shining beacon of hope. Thank you Oskar for allowing Darren Wright Foundation into your life and we look forward to your continued progress.”
Make sure you’re at Ashton Gate by 7.30pm tonight for Oskar’s big moment.
Meanwhile, City have donated a signed ball for a charity walk involved Oldham Athletic FC. Fourteen fans are walking from The Royal Oldham Hospital to the Bristol's Children Hospital in memory of Molly-Ann Smith, who sadly lost her battle with a rate form of cancer on Christmas Day ten years ago.