Champion fundraiser Isaac was given a Christmas surprise he will never forget when Everton star Andre Gomes appeared on a video call to praise him for his unwavering dedication to helping others.
Eight-year-old Isaac refused to let lockdown get in the way of his fundraising and has so far raised more than £7,500 for a variety of causes, including Everton in the Community’s The People’s Place, a proposed purpose-built mental health building in the heart of Liverpool 4.
Isaac is currently nearing the end of a 1000km cycling challenge, which he is completing on his exercise bike at home, having previously taken on 100km and 300km cycles.
He has also swam the English Channel in his paddling pool - 1,266 laps to reach 21 miles – and climbed Everest on the stairs (8800m), an effort which included nearly 3,000 circuits over 10 days.
Isaac was astonished when his hero Gomes popped up on screen to congratulate him and catch up after the pair first met at the 2019 Everton in the Community hug-a-thon - an event which was to prove significant for Isaac and his family and helped set the young Evertonian on his fundraising journey.
The hug-a-thon, held to raise funds for Everton's People’s Place campaign, gave Isaac’s dad Robert, who was suffering from poor mental health at the time, the opportunity to chat to others who were suffering mental health struggles.
Issac's surprise was part of Everton's Blue Crimbo campaign, with the Club rewarding community heroes and people who have put others above themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meet Isaac... 👋— Everton (@Everton) December 21, 2020
He's an incredible Evertonian who raised more than £7,000 for different charities during lockdown! 👏@aftgomes found out and was so amazed that he decided to surprise him with a video call this Christmas...😁🎄
You're an inspiration to us all, Isaac! 💙 @EITC pic.twitter.com/rUSt46CSiy
Robert went on to seek support from Everton in the Community, which has helped the whole family. To say thank you, Isaac chose The People’s Place as one of his charities.
Robert said: “At the time of the hug-a-thon, I was feeling really, really, low and hadn’t really communicated that to anyone, not even my closest family.
"Hearing people at the event talk about their own mental health, it was incredible really. It had quite a big impact on me personally. It made me feel less alone.
“I am a Liverpool fan and it was an Everton event, but to understand what Everton in the Community were doing, and how they reached out to us after that made everything feel a bit better really, because I knew there were other people going through tough times. I didn’t have to keep it to myself, I knew there was support out there.
“For Isaac to then be able to give back as part of his fundraising to the community… and spread the word [is great], because I’ll never forget that event and how Everton in the Community helped.”
Gomes, who has regularly shown his support for Everton in the Community during his two-and-a-half years with the Club, added: “Isaac was a pleasure to talk to, and it was brilliant to see how he and his family are doing.
"We talked about always doing the best that you can when you set yourself a goal, whether that is in football, or anything else.
"He is so motivated to help others and to complete his challenges, and that is something so wonderful to see in someone so young.
"He is a true Evertonian and he is a great example to us all. Well done, Isaac!”
Isaac added: “It was brilliant talking to Andre and it was a big surprise. He is my favourite player. He encouraged me a lot and said lots of nice things about what I had done for charity.
"It makes me proud to be part of the Everton community. They always look after people and I love that I am part of that, too. Speedo Mick also inspires me in what I do.
“I just want to thank everyone for supporting me with the fundraising. I’ve had people from around the world, and people who support lots of different teams, all donating. Because of that I’ve been able to help lots of different charities.”
Isaac’s mum Kylie, said: “Isaac was in absolute shock when Andre appeared on the screen, but it didn’t take him long to start asking his favourite player questions!
"When the call finished Isaac just said “Wow!” and then started dancing with joy! It was lovely to see. We are so proud of him and it is lovely that he has been recognised like this, as I don’t think he fully realises yet the positive impact of what he has done.”
Isaac’s chosen charities also include Christian Aid, St Oswald's and Sefton foodbank, the Darby Rimmer MND (Motor Neurone Disease) Foundation, Love Jasmine and Flame Spirit.
In November, Isaac was named a joint winner of the Fundraising Award at this year’s annual Liverpool Echo Awards.
And, despite all of his hard work, he isn’t taking a rest this Christmas. Isaac will be accompanying his mum Kylie to help serve food to homeless people in Liverpool on Christmas Eve – food that the pair fundraised for with a sleepout this December.
Andre’s call to Isaac is part of Everton’s 2020 Blue Crimbo campaign. Blue Crimbo has been rewarding deserving Evertonians and Community heroes at Christmas time for a decade. With support from First-Team players and staff, the Club has brightened the festive period for hundreds of people in that time, with this year's campaign focused on those who have made a real difference during a challenging 2020.
Watch Andre surprise Isaac above or by clicking here.
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Gomes Gives Out Hugs For People's Place Fundraiser