Football star’s incredible reunion with tragic Ryan
Former footballer John Hartson has visited a teenager who is in a coma after he was knocked off his bike.
The former Arsenal, Celtic, West Ham and Wales striker had previously met 16-year-old Ryan Smith three years ago at a football presentation.
And he decided to visit the teenager in hospital after he heard Ryan had been injured in a crash with a van while cycling to work.
During the visit, Ryan managed a little smile and was able to raise his leg five times when asked.
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Ryan’s Dad Mark said: “Coming to see Ryan was something very pertinent to John. He said he needed to come and see this lad and now we are not just people to him, we are friends.
“He has rung me again to see how Ryan is doing.
“Ryan has actually met John before, three years ago at a football presentation.”
After his visit, Hartson wrote on his blog: “It was so humbling. All I did was be there. Sit with Ryan. Talk to him. Pray a little. It wasn’t much but the family said it meant something to them to know people were thinking of their little boy. That’s all I wanted.”
In July 2009 Hartson received chemotherapy after being diagnosed with testicular cancer which then spread to his brain.
Ryan was not wearing a cycle helmet at the time of the accident and his family, from Chapel St Leonards, are campaigning to make them a legal requirement.
They have set up the Ryan Smith Foundation to run the campaign and Mr Smith hopes it will also be able to help bicycle crash victims in the future.
The foundation benefited from a charity cart push at the weekend which raised almost £2,500 for it and the Guiding Movement.
The family is now gearing up for this weekend’s fundraiser which includes a 60 mile bike ride, football match and auction.
The event is being held in Chapel St Leonards on Sunday.
Mark is biking along the A52 to Pilgrim Hospital and back and is inviting cyclists to join him from 7am.
There will also be a charity football match at 1pm and a charity auction at 6pm at the Grange Pub.
Auction prizes include accommodation for eight people for a holiday in Spain, accommodation for four people for a holiday in Tenerife, a Wimbledon racket and tennis lessons at Woodhall Spa, a sky dive and much more.
Mark said: “The support really has been immense. The Ryan Smith Foundation Facebook page has over 11,000 hits.
“We need to turn those hits into signatures on the e-petition to have the campaign lobbied in Parliament.”
To find out more about the events and the e-petition, visit www.facebook.com/
Teams wanting to enter the charity football match should contact Paul Charles by Thursday evening to email@example.com or call 07809 195439.