Gillian and Barry Wilkinson are already trying to book heart screening sessions in 2018 and looking forward to distributing life-saving defibrillators with The Daniel Wilkinson Foundation now more than 80 per cent of the way to reaching its first fundraising target of £50K.
The foundation was set up by the family and friends of the late Shaw Lane defender after he sadly passed away last year aged 24 after collapsing on the pitch during an Integro League Cup clash at Brighouse Town's Dual Seal Stadium. The EVO-STIK League’s clubs are backing the charity’s efforts this season with adverts and flyers in all Integro League Cup programmes and his parents say the only thing holding them back now is the demand for heart screening and identifying clubs in need of defibrillators.
As many of her son's teammates prepare to play in front of millions on BT Sport this weekend when the Ducks host Mansfield Town in the first round proper of the Emirates FA Cup, Gillian said: “People are still being so kind and generous in their support and a ballpark figure for the amount raised so far would be £40,000. It has taken a little while but we are now booking screening sessions with Cardiac Risk in the Young. Unfortunately, CRY are in huge demand so the sessions are not until 2019.
Proud parents: Gillian and Barry Wilkinson at their son's memorial match
“However, as well as CRY we are talking to another charity that has arranged screening sessions to see if we can possibly do something in 2018. We have also sourced a supplier of defibrillators and are in the process of identifying sports teams who may require the equipment."
More than a £1,000 was added to the fundraising total on the eve of the 2017-18 campaign at the inaugural Daniel Wilkinson Memorial Trophy match between last season's EVO-STIK League South champions and Brighouse Town and Barry Wilkinson is looking forward to seeing the fixture continue to kick off fundraising efforts every August for years to come after the support they received so far from the league and elsewhere in football.
“Going forward, we want to do this for the long term," added Dan's proud dad. "We owe it to Dan to keep his memory alive and in the process help somebody out there that has an undiagnosed heart problem. And after helping that first person we move on to the second.”
A former Hull City youth team star, who also turned out for North Ferriby United, Scarborough Athletic, Harrogate Town, Goole Town and Rushall Olympic, Dan passed away on September 12 2016 after collapsing on the pitch just under an hour into his side's cup clash at the Dual Seal Stadium and despite the best efforts of medics from both clubs and the emergency services to treat him using Town's own defibrillator and administering CPR.
Presentation: The skippers collect the cup from EVO-STIK League secretary Angie Firth with Dan's parents and their club chairmen looking on
The defender was later found to have the same disease that caused former Bolton star Fabrice Muamba to retire from football in 2012 after collapsing during an FA Cup tie at Spurs. That incident prompted the Football Association to team up with the British Heart Foundation to subsidise the cost of defibrillators for more than 900 clubs at Steps 1 to 5 following lobbying from a number of competitions including the EVO-STIK League.
The FA announced in August that the initiative is being relaunched following its previous success when more than half the clubs in the EVO-STIK League took advantage of the subsidy to purchase the life-saving equipment. Since the start of the 2017-18 season, defibrillators have been made mandatory at all EVO-STIK League grounds.
Find out more about The Daniel Wilkinson Foundation via the charity's social media channels and website:
Email contact@ thedanielwilkinsonfoundation.org
To donate, visit: mydonate.bt.com/charities/thedanielwilkinsonfoundation.
Mission: The latest poster advertising the foundation's aims
Images courtesy of Shaw Lane & Brighouse Town
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