Real Madrid signed football auctioned for fundraiserBy Stephen Lloyd
March 06, 2013
A FOOTBALL signed by the Real Madrid squad is up for grabs in an auction being hosted by a support group for parents and carers of children with Down’s Syndrome.
Stepping Stones DS (SSDS) will be auctioning the football on March 21, World Down's Syndrome Awareness Day.
The group hopes that auctioning the ball - which was donated by Real Madrid shirt sponsor BWin and contains the signatures of the 2011/2 La Liga winning squad, including former Manchester United player Cristiano Ronaldo - will raise awareness as well as vital funds.
Stepping Stones was founded by mothers Emma Hall from Fleet and Sharon Smith from Hook in November 2006, after they identified a lack of support for parents and carers of children with Down’s Syndrome in the local area.
It now supports nearly 100 families right across north Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire.
The charity is run by volunteers, relying solely on donations, grants and fundraising to operate.
Emma said: “SSDS provides both emotional and practical support to our families.
“We hope that by auctioning the ball we can raise the £2,000 we need to run our ball skills sessions for another year.
“These sessions are really important to help our children improve their gross motor skills and self confidence.
"Hopefully this will allow the children to get involved in a kickaround in the playground, emulating their heroes, rather than having to watch from the sidelines.
“Ultimately our ambition is to give our kids the skills to enable them to be active members of their communities, rather than spectators.”
Group member and Farnborough resident James Maw, who has a two-year-old daughter with the condition, said: “SSDS isn’t just a support group, it’s a way of life for Florence who is reaping the benefits from the activities she goes to.
“For me as her dad, SSDS is something that I also belong to where everyone just ‘knows’.
“It’s a reassuring arm on the shoulder, full of wisdom and ideas, always happy to impart knowledge.
“The nights out us ‘dads’ go on is more than just a beer and a curry with other blokes who have a child with Down’s Syndrome, it’s a chance to joke, laugh, console and relax in the knowledge that everyone here completely understands.
“It’s a unique and diverse group who I know are going through or have gone through some of the more difficult times that can present themselves and will listen without judgement.
“I have met other parents who don’t have anything like SSDS in their area and it makes me feel bad for them as I know how much we have benefited from the group.”
The work of the group was recognised last year when they were chosen to take part in the Paralympic Torch Relay.
The signatures on the football are from players Angel di Maria, Fabio Coentrao, Alvaro Arbeloa, Mesut Ozil, Sergio Ramos, Cristiano Ronaldo, Nuri Sahin, Iker Casillas, Gonzalo Higuain, Raphael Varane, Ricardo Carvalho, Antonio Adan, Jose Callejon, Esteban Granero, Sami Khedira, Karim Benzema, Lassana Diarra, Pepe, Xabi Alonso, Marcelo, Kaka and Raul Albiol.
The auction will run for 10 days on eBay concluding on March 21 at 9.03pm, the date and time signifying the third and additional chromosome present in people with Down's Syndrome. It will go live at 9.03pm on Monday March 11 - search 'Real Madrid signed football'.
To keep in touch and up-to-date with the auction, you can ‘like’ the Stepping Stones Facebook page.