If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may remember this post from September about Gary Parkinson, who had a stroke aged 42 and is now suffering from locked-in syndrome. Since I blogged about his stroke, he's been moved to a specialist recovery centre in Bury and is undergoing treatment. The latest I can find is that he now has a wheelchair to allow him to go outside and is being fitted with a speech valve to help him make sounds, and he is also trialling electronic communication which reacts to his blinking and eye movement.
Back when I first blogged about it, I mentioned that I wanted to help with any fundraising event that is set up. Blackpool and Burnley have already held fundraising nights for his fighting fund, but this week sees Preston's turn. On Thursday 21st April, kick-off 6.30pm, there will be a Play For Parky international fundraiser held at Springfields (which is PNE's training ground off Dodney Drive in Lea, Preston) between Preston Supporter's Group (England) versus SIPS (Finland). The teams will be managed for the night by Graham Alexander and David Eyres, both former PNE players and team-mates of Gary. Entry is a suggested donation of £5. Afterwards, there will be an auction of memorabilia after the match at The Withy Trees in Fulwood.
Also, Middlesbrough, his home town team, are holding a charity match for him at the Riverside Stadium on Sunday 15th May, kick-off 4pm. The team of 86, which Gary played in, will play against other celebrities and household names. Gary's son, Luke, who has set up a website to keep everyone updated about his Dad's condition, is set to play in that game and wear the number 2 shirt worn by his Dad. If you want to buy tickets, please go here - tickets cost £10 for adults, £1 for children, with all proceeds going to The Gary Parkinson Trust. You can also buy tickets from usual Middlesbrough ticket outlets.
If you can make it to either, you'd be supporting a worthwhile cause. I'm going to try to get there on Thursday and live up to the promise I made in my original post. It's the least I can do. He may have been a football player, but he's also a father and husband. Quite apart from the impact this has had on him, I can only begin to imagine the effect on his family. They all deserve my support.