Derbyshire school pupils fundraising in tribute to seriously ill friend

Year six pupils at Park House Primary School in Pilsley have been fundraising for Cancer Research and Alex TLC in a tribute to classmate William Downes, who has been diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy.
Year six pupils at Park House Primary School in Pilsley have been fundraising for Cancer Research and Alex TLC in a tribute to classmate William Downes, who has been diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy.

Pupils at a Derbyshire primary school have launched a charity fundraising campaign in support of a classmate with a rare genetic disorder.

A group of 12 children in year six at Park House Primary School, on Rupert Street, Lower Pilsley, completed the Cancer Research Pretty Muddy Race for Life at Graves Park in Sheffield on Saturday.

William was diagnosed with ALD 18 months after he started experiencing problems at school.

William was diagnosed with ALD 18 months after he started experiencing problems at school.

Calling themselves Will D’s Warriors, Katie, Grace, Chiana, Daniel, Liam, Peter, Will, Kyle, Alfie, Josh, Harvey, and Danny took on the five kilometre obstacle course in a tribute to William Downes, who was diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) 18 months ago.

In a joint statement, the group said: “Will D, as he is known to his friends, is one of the bravest boys we know. He is kind, funny and a warrior, who isn’t letting ALD win.

“We miss Will lots and really love it when he comes in to visit us at school. We wanted to show just how proud we are of our friend.”

They added: “We are raising money for Cancer research as well as ALD charity Alex TLC because we hate these illnesses and we want to help find a cure by raising as much money as we can.

“We are doing this for Will and others who we love that have been effected by these horrible diseases.”

So far, the group has raised more than £420 via an online fundraising page for Cancer Research.

A spokesperson for Park House said: “Fabulous, amazing, dedicated — just a few words that spring to mind to describe these pupils. Well done to them all.”

Jayne Bowler, the parent of one of the Warriors, said: “These children are amazing. We as parents are so incredibly proud of them and how they want to help make a difference for their friend, Will, and others who are effected by theses terrible diseases.”

ALD is a rare hereditary genetic disease affecting around one in every 20,000 boys, with symptoms typically first detected between the age of four and the early teenage years.

It has damaging effects on the adrenal glands, the brain cells and central nervous system due to destruction of the myelin coating on those cells, causing mental and physical functions to deteriorate.

Much research is being done into ALD and related disorders. In future, gene therapy is likely to provide the best hope of treatment or cure but the science is unlikely to advance quick enough to help those already living with it.

n To support the Warriors’ and give to Cancer Research, go to http://tiny.cc/eibh8y.

To make a donation to Alex TLC, go to facebook.com/AlexTLCsupport