Help Fight Blood Cancer In Memory Of Gary Ablett
Former teammates of late Blues hero urge fans to act.
Players from Everton's 1995 FA Cup winning team are urging Everton fans to sign up to the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register in memory of former team mate, Gary Ablett.
Duncan Ferguson, Graham Stuart, Gary's widow Jackie and niece Toni Moore have joined forces to promote an event where fans can sign up to the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register in memory of the Everton legend who died in January 2012 from leukaemia, a form of blood cancer.
The Club is working with blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan to host a recruitment event in the People's Club at Goodison Park on 8 April between 3pm-7pm. Anyone aged 16-30 is encouraged to sign up to the bone marrow register. For someone with blood cancer, a bone marrow transplant can be their last chance of survival.
Ablett's former teammate Stuart threw his weight behind the campaign, declaring: "It's vitally important that as many people as possible go along to the donation event at Goodison. The Anthony Nolan Trust is fantastic and they do an awful lot of good work. It's so sad what happened to Gary, but he is just one of number of people who have been hit by this terrible disease and you never know if a blood disorder might strike someone in your family as well, so I would urge local people to get down to Goodison on 8 April and hopefully do some good for a family in the future."
There are over 470,000 people on the Anthony Nolan register, but the charity can still only find a suitable donor for around half the people who come to them in need. The charity particularly needs young men to sign up to the register, as they make the best donors, and 90% of people donate using a process similar in nature to giving blood.
Gary's niece, Toni, joined the register after her uncle was diagnosed and donated her bone marrow in November last year.
Toni, 23, said: "When Gary was told that he needed a bone marrow transplant to save his life, we all decided to sign up to the register. We knew that we wouldn't be a match for him, but we could be a match for someone else in his position - it was such an important thing to do.
"Donating really wasn't a big deal until I was told that my recipient was a woman. It suddenly hit me that I'd just given someone's mum, sister or wife another chance. Nothing can be more important than that."
Ahead of the Goodison event on 8 April, Gary's widow Jackie added: "These events are really important. It was important for us a family for Gary to get his donation, obviously it didn't work out for Gary, but the way I look at it is it gave him an extra six months with us because if he hadn't had it, he would probably not have lasted as long as he did.
"Gary's illness was very rare but many people survive blood cancers thanks to the donated cells and it's the easiest thing to do. You may never get a call but you may be lucky and be a match for someone. I remember the day we got told we had a 100 per cent match for Gary and the feeling was just unbelievable to think that there was some hope, so it's really important that people get involved and go along to the event."
Those who can't make the event can sign up online at www.anthonynolan.org/register.
Pictured above between Graham Stuart and Duncan Ferguson are Gary's wife Jackie and niece Toni Moore.