So many charities and community groups have lost income through a lack of fundraising events during the Covid-19 pandemic, and that includes Wolves Foundation.
And events of the last seven months have also put a stop to an emerging link between the club and the Race Against Blood Cancer charity, who have worked closely with former Wolves and Nigeria goalkeeper Carl Ikeme.
Wolves staff had previously chosen Race Against Blood Cancer to become the club’s first ever chosen charity to be the focus of a year of fundraising and raising awareness in their lifesaving work to find stem cell donors for people suffering from chemotherapy-resistant blood cancers.
Carl, now in remission after coming through being diagnosed with leukaemia in 2017, had also planned a 555 miles charity bike ride taking in the clubs he represented during his career and finishing at Molineux ahead of the final home game of last season against Crystal Palace.
That also had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, but Carl is still planning to take on the marathon cycle when regulations allow, and Wolves staff and supporters will be encouraged to get behind him just as they did when he made over 200 appearances between the sticks back in the day!
“We worked with the club to help facilitate a staff vote for our first charity of the year, and Race Against Blood Cancer came out on top,” says Head of the Foundation Will Clowes.
“All the staff were really looking forward to working with the charity and getting involved in a series of fundraising events, including supporting Carl's fantastic challenge with the bike ride, but unfortunately the pandemic has meant we have been unable to do so.
“As a charity ourselves we know how challenging this year has been with a lack of fundraising, and that is particularly important for an organisation like Race Against Blood Cancer whose work in raising awareness and attracting donors to the stem call register helps to save lives.
“We have been in touch with them just to say that although everything is on hold for the moment, we will definitely be looking to offer our help and support as Wolves' staff's chosen charity as soon as we are able to in the future.”
When the pandemic eases and regulations allow, the plan is for Wolves staff to support Race Against Blood Cancer with the delivery of a key event as well as make donations from other fundraising such as dress down days, coffee mornings or in lieu of sending Christmas cards.
The idea was also to raise awareness of the charity’s activities, with Wolves also matching pound for pound all the money raised by staff.
Since their inception in 2015, Race Against Blood Cancer have recruited nearly 10,000 potential stem cell donors, and have identified 136 people who are now potential lifesavers for a blood cancer patient in need.
And 16 people who have signed up through the charity have donated their stem cells to a patient which has given them a second chance at life.
The charity works particularly on trying to encourage donors from BAME communities due to a lack of ethnic diversity on the stem cell register, and has recruited an incredible 37% of potential donors from minority ethnic communities, compared to the figure of just 15% on the overall donor register.
Julie Child, general manager of Race Against Blood Cancer, said: “As a small charity, and like many in the sector, our income has dropped substantially this year which has led to some very worrying times for us all.
“In addition, our recruitment of donors has dropped 85% in comparison to last year.
“However, it’s really wonderful to know that we have the ongoing support of the Wolves Foundation and of course, Carl Ikeme, who has been an unstinting ambassador for the charity over the last two years.
“We are really looking forward to working with both the Foundation team and with Carl again, hopefully in the not-too distant future.”
Which takes us neatly on to Carl then, and the small matter of a 555-mile bike ride. Is he still keen?
“Absolutely,” is the response.
Former Wolves and England defender Joleon Lescott had already signed up to join Carl on the ride, and his fellow team-mates Matt Murray and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake had also been involved with donor drives at Molineux and a Telford Wolves event respectively.
“I was fortunate that I didn’t require a stem cell transplant during my treatment for leukaemia, but if I had, the options would have been very limited due to a lack of donors from ethnic minority backgrounds,” says Carl.
“Race Against Blood Cancer is trying to change all that, and I have been delighted to support them with their lifesaving work.
“They a small charity making a big difference, and that is why I decided to take on this marathon bike ride, covering all the loan clubs I played for during my career before finishing up at Molineux.
“It was really disappointing that we had to postpone the challenge earlier this year, but we recognise that there are people going through really tough times at the moment, and that includes people who will have been diagnosed with blood cancer.
“That is why it is good to hear that Wolves are planning to continue their backing for Race Against Blood Cancer when everything improves, and I will definitely be ready to get back in the saddle and take on the cycling challenge when it is safe for us all to do so.”
To find out more about becoming a stem cell donor and giving a blood cancer patient a chance at life, visit www.raceagainstbloodcancer.com/join.