A CAMPAIGN to raise vital funds for a Glengormley tot battling a rare form of cancer is gathering pace thanks to his cheeky take on an internet viral phenomenon and a recent high-profile charity auction. The Belfast Media Group is backing the fundraising campaign for three-year-old Oscar Knox, who needs up to £250,000 for treatment for neuroblastoma, an aggressive strain of the disease which specifically affects children.
Brave Oscar, who hails from Hightown, came to the public’s attention after his take on the now-famous image of Irish football fans on their way to the European Championships displaying a tricolour with the message: “Angela Merkel thinks we’re at work”.
The jibe at the Irish fiscal treaty situation and the Republic’s financial relationship with Eurozone powerhouse Germany, became a viral sensation during Ireland’s ultimately unsuccessful Euro 2012 campaign.
Oscar, with the help of his family, then created his own tribute to the image, posting a picture on his blog holding a mini-tricolour with the words: “My Ma thinks I’ll be in bed early”.
The Limerick boys behind the original flag jape were so charmed by Oscar’s witty take on their antics, that they decided to hold a charity auction of their tricolour, with proceeds going to Oscar and his family, along with the Crumlin Children’s Hospital in Dublin. They even paid him a visit at his Glengormley home last week, bringing the famous flag.
The Knox’s received a huge boost from the auction, which was hosted live on air during the Ryan Tubridy show on RTÉ’s 2FM last weekend.
The winning bid for the flag came from an Irish ex-pat in Spain, at €15,800, while a Dublin bar who had put in an earlier bid of €5,000, generously decided to offer the sum anyway.
Oscar’s dad Stephen, who is from Glengormley and is a former Belfast Royal Academy pupil, said Oscar’s appeal was on its way to reaching the target, but that more was still needed for the football-mad youngster to get the lifesaving treatment required.
“We are blown away by the support so far, and it was amazing to have the Limerick students get on board,” he said.
“We can’t thank them enough for their help in highlighting our campaign, and the bidders at the auction too. Every penny of our appeal will help give our wee man a chance at life by sending him for the treatment he needs but can’t get here. The best immunotherapy required to treat this disease unfortunately isn’t available in the UK, but while ourselves and other families hope to help change that, in the meantime our only option is to raise the funds to send him overseas.”
Stephen added that a number of people were planning events to help with the fundraising including skydiving and the like and encouraged anyone else who was interested to get in touch..
“The overall financial goal to help us take our wee boy to America or Germany is still some distance away, and we would appeal for anyone interested in doing something, anything to help raise funds to get in touch with us.”
The family’s moving story on Oscar’s condition and his ongoing treatment is chronicled in a blog, available for viewing at www.oscarknox.blogspot.co.uk.
Donations to help him reach his goal can be made at www.justgiving.com/teams/weeoscar or in person at the North Belfast News offices on the Antrim Road or at Belfast Media Group’s offices at Hannahstown Hill.
The family can also be contacted for fundraising ideas and details at Teamoscar@hotmail.co.uk.