Sunderland footballer Craig Gardner's £500 gift for brave Sneyd Green toddler
A TODDLER battling a rare disorder will be given special clinical equipment – after a Premier League footballer offered him a surprise gift.
Brave two-year-old Danyl Brough will soon be able to watch his favourite cartoons in comfort after his family's chance meeting with Sunderland star Craig Gardner.
Little Danyl, of Sneyd Green, has CHARGE syndrome, a rare genetic disorder which leads to a number of serious health problems.
It means the youngster has a weak heart, is completely deaf, cannot eat solid food and suffers mobility problems.
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But thanks to midfielder Craig, his family will be able to buy a special chair that will allow Danyl to sit up straight like a normal child.
The former Aston Villa and Birmingham City player insisted on paying the £500 cost after meeting the family one lunchtime in Birmingham.
They were eating in Selfridges restaurant, shortly after one of Danyl's regular appointments at Birmingham Children's Hospital.
Danyl's mum Leanne, aged 29, who lives in Hanley Road with her husband, James, and their children Declan, aged five, Amelia, aged four, and 16-week-old Ethan, said: "We were having lunch in Selfridges in Birmingham and Craig was sitting nearby. I didn't even know who he was at first because I don't watch football.
"His little girl was interested in Danyl and we got talking.
"His wife, Lexie, said how much she'd love to have four children like us.
"He asked if there were any charities involved with Danyl's care and we said that there weren't.
"He immediately said he was going to go to the cash point and get the money out there and then.
"We had to tell him not to at least four times before he would listen."
The families exchanged contact details and before long Craig was in touch again.
And this time he wouldn't take no for an answer.
Full-time mum Leanne added: "He was wonderful. He was so caring. He meant everything he said. We just feel so incredibly lucky."
Danyl's dad James, aged 34, said: "Craig passed on a telephone number and Leanne exchanged a few emails with his wife.
"Craig also rang my mother-in-law, who was also there when we were having lunch in Birmingham. It's not something you expect to happen to normal families just going about their business."
The £500 from Craig will go towards a special supportive harness, similar to a baby bouncer.
Leanne says her son is a huge Mickey Mouse fan, and it will allow him to watch his favourite cartoon character in comfort.
Craig said: "We were in the restaurant and my wife and I were both extremely moved by Danyl's plight. They are such a lovely family and I thought if there was anything we could do then we should.
"I wish them all the best and hope the equipment will go some way to making Danyl's life a little easier."
Danyl was diagnosed with CHARGE at the age of around sixth months.
The congenital condition can be life-threatening, but Danyl has been making good progress.
Charities offer financial help to families coping with the condition, but Leanne said she was uncomfortable with the idea of asking for 'handouts'.
She said: "We work, so we weren't comfortable with the idea of being asked about our finances.
"It sometimes seems as though people on benefits get given everything, but we are a working family.
"When we looked into it, they wanted to know everything about our gas and electric bills and how much we spend on the kids at Christmas. I didn't like the idea of it. But Craig's generous gift has been a huge help."