Ballyclare PANDAS sufferer Cameron Lindsay is on cloud nine after Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty agreed to sign a boot which the local boy caught at Saturday’s Euro 2016 match.
13-year-old Cameron, who suffers from the neurological condition Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS), had undertaken a 1,600-mile road trip with his family the previous day in order to witness the team’s clash against Wales.
After the match, fans waited for an hour to greet their football heroes, who threw their own shirts and boots to the crowd in thanks for their support.
“Cameron had struck a deal with his Dad that if they qualified he could go to watch them play Wales, so we left Belfast at 7.30pm on Friday and arrived in Paris at 3pm on Saturday,” his mum Natasha recalled.
“As soon as we arrived the boys set off to get tickets, and we were sitting at the very front of the stadium.
“The excitement was at absolute fever pitch!
“After the match the fans waited on for over an hour inside the stadum and the team came back out from the changing rooms with Arlene Foster.
“The players were agog at the reception they got with the fans singing, so some of the players took off their shirts and boots and threw them to the crowd.
“Cameron was anxious at going into the crowd as there was a bit of a scrum but it fell onto the floor and Cameron grabbed it and hugged it to his chest.
“I was videoing the fans singing at the time and his Dad and I couldn’t believe it when Cameron emerged with Kyle Lafferty’s boot!”
Natasha says that the unexpected prize “really made the trip,” and more excitement was to come after star striker Lafferty agreed to meet Cameron in person back home in Northern Ireland to sign the boot.
“Cameron wasn’t able to go to the fan zone to sign the boot as he was shattered after the match and there were thousands of people there, but after we got home and posted our story on social media people came forward to help us contact Kyle Lafferty,” she continued.
“I think he is on honeymoon at the minute but we will meet with him afterwards.
“When I told Cameron he was going to meet Kyle Lafferty he couldn’t believe it!”
The surprises were a much-needed boost for the Lindsay family, who have spent the past year supporting Cameron as he battles against his rare neurological condition and its associated complications.
“We have been told that Cameron’s brain injury is permanent, and he has been a bit down and unable to go to school for three months after he contracted glandular fever,” Natasha revealed.
“He is more susceptible to it due to his compromised immune system.
“The doctors don’t believe that giving him more treatment will help but we have been referred to London for a second opinion and we are also planning to hold fundraising events to send Cameron to Galway for a music therapy programme which helps children with brain injuries.
“We have a Real Madrid shirt signed by Ronaldo and a shirt signed by the Northern Ireland team, so we will be aiming to raise £5000 for the therapy through a prize draw.”