A grateful family have heaped praise on Bradford City for putting the smile back on the face of a desperately-ill boy.
Bantams fan Daniel Thorne, 13, of Allerton, suffers from the lifelong condition TRAPS, which is a periodic fever syndrome, and the only thing that makes him smile is football.
His mum Vicky Thorne, 30, said: “He has to have injections every day. He gets very poorly with it, and gets inflammations of the bones and joints, high fevers and serious stomach cramps.
“He has also got osteoporosis, cracked vertebrae, and crushed bits in between his spine. He has infusions to try to strengthen his bones.”
But the Thornton Grammar School pupil has been given reason to smile over the past few months – thanks to his beloved Bradford City. And it all culminated on Saturday when Daniel led out his heroes for their League One derby victory over Sheffield United.
Speaking to the Telegraph & Argus after the match, Daniel said: “It was absolutely brilliant. It was an amazing day.”
The Thorne family’s involvement with City started earlier this year.
Mrs Thorne, who is married to Matthew, 33, said: “In February this year he got rushed into hospital in Leeds. It turned out he had a hole in his bowel. They fixed it but he nearly died.
“As he went in for the operation I promised him I would get him a signed Bradford City T-shirt. I took some pictures of him when he was poorly and went down to Bradford City.”
Mrs Thorne said she was explaining Daniel’s situation to a member of staff at Valley Parade when manager Phil Parkinson overheard.
“He invited me into his office and said not only will we sign the shirt, we will do much more,” said Mrs Thorne.
Daniel has since had dinner with the players and met them all at the training ground. He was also mascot against Burton Albion in last season’s play-offs.
Mrs Thorne said: “He is down a lot, and hasn’t really been to school that much. He has been very, very poorly.
“The only thing that seems to make him smile is football.”
Mrs Thorne reserved special praise for City’s customer liaison manager Wendy James. She said: “I messaged Wendy congratulating the club on promotion and she messaged back asking how Daniel was. I said the only thing that makes him smile is football so she said we want him to be mascot again. I told him and he was over the moon.”
Mrs Thorne added: “I think Bradford City are absolutely amazing. They have helped us as well as Daniel. They have helped us out a lot and they have helped with Daniel’s confidence.”
She said City player Alan Connell was Daniel’s favourite because he had shown a great interest in Daniel’s story and had sat down with him for a lengthy chat on several occasions.
“Connell was really heartfelt in his interest in Daniel’s situation and he remembered Daniel straight away when he saw him at Saturday’s match,” added Mrs Thorne.
Daniel, who has four siblings – Abigail, 11, Katie, seven, Ashton, six, and Miley, four – goes to Bantams games whenever he can. He missed City’s first visit to Wembley last season because of his bowel operation, but he made it to the national stadium the second time around.
Mrs Thorne said: “He was very poorly but he got there. He cried when he got there and said ‘I’m at Wembley’. He slept all the way home on the coach.”