Nine-year-old Finn McEwen was an extra special guest at Goodison Park on Saturday to witness the 2-1 victory over Bournemouth, his family’s first visit since the young Evertonian received the fantastic news that his leukemia is cured.
Many Blues fans are familiar with the story of Finn from 2015 when. aged just seven, he was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome – a rare bone marrow disease which causes a life-threatening drop in the number of healthy blood cells.
In a bid to find Finn a suitable bone marrow donor, the ‘Find Finn a Match’ campaign was launched, encouraging people to get tested and see if they were a match. Finn and his family were invited to USM Finch Farm to meet the team and help raise awareness of the campaign to find a donor.
In June 2015, a match for Finn was found and he spent five weeks in hospital undergoing intense chemotherapy which was then followed by a successful bone marrow transplant.
He had a number of setbacks in the 12 months which followed, and it's been a long and difficult road to recovery, but in September this year Finn was given the all-clear by Manchester Children’s Hospital, which informed him his leukemia is cured and he can return to living a normal and healthy life.
Finn and his younger brother Lucas were invited to Goodison Park on Saturday to celebrate his fantastic news and update the Blues players on his journey over the past two years.
Finn brought with him his special bag of Courage Beads to show the players ahead of kick-off. Reaching over five metres long, Finn’s colourful collection of beads detail his lengthy battle over the past two years with a bead gained for every treatment or procedure he underwent.
After meeting all the first-team players, Finn and Lucas took part in the traditional pre-match warm-up alongside other mascots and, at 3pm, they came out of the tunnel to the sound of Z-Cars with their favourite players; Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Speaking about his successful fight against leukaemia, Finn said: “It’s been hard, tough, rough – whatever you want to call it. But I’m feeling good, better than ever and now I’m here in my kit ready to be a mascot, hopefully I’ll bring the team good luck.”
Finn’s mum Carole added: “The Finn we’ve brought to Goodison today is completely different to the little boy who came two years ago. Today he is full of energy whereas last time was a week before his transplant and he was feeling very poorly. Seeing the difference in him is amazing; he’s so happy and he's got his confidence back.
Dad, Neil added: “It’s been the toughest time of our lives but the Club has given him a lift through very difficult times and given him something to hold onto. Everton have been fantastic throughout Finn’s battle and when we posted that Finn was in remission and had been cured, they were the first ones to get in touch to say how happy all the staff were.”
It is believed that as a result of Finn's campaign, upwards of 10 people have so far been contacted as matches for others in need, and several have even gone on to be that potentially lifesaving donor.
You can sign up to become a donor and help other children like Finn by visiting www.dkms.org.uk