Rising Exeter Chiefs rugby union star Max Bodilly is helping convert a signed team shirt into funds to support disabled and terminally ill children in Devon.
Max, who plays Full Back/Wing in the 2017 Aviva premiership winning team, is supporting local parents Rachel and Ryan Berryman whose son Reed, aged three, underwent extensive brain surgery in 2015 and now demonstrates challenging behaviours and has a visual impairment.
Reed has recently been provided with a specialist bed, to keep him safe at night, with help from Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children. The Berrymans crowdfunded £385 towards the £2,995 piece of equipment, with Newlife offering the balance of £2,610*.
Now the Berryman family, from Exeter, want to say ‘thank you’ to Newlife by raising money to help other disabled children in Devon like Reed. The Exeter Chiefs’ signed shirt is being auctioned on e-bay – https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/253074749459 – and rugby star Max is urging fans to get behind the fundraising initiative.
Reed’s mum Rachel said: “The bed has changed our lives. We hope by auctioning off the Aviva premiership winners’ signed shirt to be able to support other families like us.”
Young Reed Berryman was diagnosed with Epilepsy in August 2014. Resistant to drug treatment, he was having upwards of 100 seizures a day. Mum Rachel explains: “His treatment took a radical step, culminating in extensive neuro surgery at 22 months old. The impact of such an operation is slowly unfolding. Although the seizures are thought to have stopped, the consequences of the extensive brain injury are emerging. With increasingly challenging behaviours and suspected ASD, he requires close and constant supervision day and night to ensure the safety of himself and his two siblings, aged four and one.”
Reed isn’t a good sleeper, so night-times had become a major problem for the family, whether he was at home with mum, staying with dad, in respite care or during regular hospital admissions. A portable safety sleeper to provide a consistent, and safe, night-time environment was recommended.
Rachel said: “However, as we are finding with all specialist equipment, there is a hefty price tag for a number of reasons including extensive research into the products.
“We were fortunate that Newlife charity and some family crowdfunding could cover the full cost of the safety sleeper. Now, with the help of the Exeter Chiefs’ kind donation we are trying to auction a signed shirt to give a little back to Newlife by way of a thank you.”
Newlife has supported 339 babies, children and young people in Devon. Right now, the charity is working with the families of a further nine children, with equipment needs totalling £9,532. To find out more about Newlife, and how you could help disabled and terminally ill in the county, go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/devon. Alternatively, contact the Newlife Supporter Relations Team on 01543 462777 or email [email protected]
*The £2,610 grant towards the equipment resulted from Newlife’s charity partnership with fashion store chain River Island. The profit from every five pence carrier bag sold at every one of the chain’s UK stores goes to Newlife to directly fund vital specialist equipment.
Pictured: Reed Berryman