Gethin Jones is grateful to the parade of Wanderers’ legends and his current team-mates who are playing their part in helping the campaign to support his mother’s fight against MND.
Jones’ mum Karen was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in July.
The family has just been buoyed by the news that Karen, who is 56, has been accepted onto a trial drug programme in the United States to help combat the effects of the condition, which currently has no known cure.
And this coming Sunday, Wanderers will host a special charity match to help raise funds for Karen’s travel, treatment and future care – as well as the Darby Rimmer Foundation – co-founded by ex-Wanderers’ defender Stephen Darby which funds and assists research into the illness.
A current Wanderers’ line-up is taking on a Bolton All-Stars XI, to be managed by former boss Sam Allardyce – who famously took the Whites into Europe – and which has named former favourite Jay Jay Okocha as its latest recruit.
Striking legend Kevin Davies has been instrumental in putting together an illustrious squad of players who will be warmly welcomed back to the University of Bolton Stadium by thousands of supporters, who have already bought tickets, and the family of current Whites’ defender Jones.
“Kevin Davies got in contact straight away and said we’ll get this sorted and John McGinlay at the club has been a great support,” said Jones.
“All the support we’ve had from the legends, like Kevin, Sam and all the others who are coming has been amazing really.
“All the support from all the staff to keep me positive and get this weekend sorted has been a good thing for me.
“We were overwhelmed as a family with the support we were given on social media over the past few months and I just want to thank them for everything.
“It will be a good day out for the fans to see these legends back again and I want to show mum the support she is actually getting.
“She gets the support from family and friends back home but for her to come up here and see thousands of fans to come to the charity game for her and to see the legends play will be a fantastic occasion.”
Unfortunately, Jones himself won’t be able to play due to the leg injury which is currently keeping him out of action.
He may ask to swap roles with manager Ian Evatt, with Evatt contemplating pulling on his boots again to supplement a squad that will have FA Cup commitments just a few days later.
But regardless of the line-up, Wanderers put out, Jones couldn’t have asked for more backing from the club, which is also staging a sold-out black-tie dinner on Saturday night, in its attempt to make a desperately difficult situation more manageable.
“The club has been unbelievable in organising this big weekend for my mum,” added Jones, who has just signed a new contract with Wanderers to stay until June 2024.
“I’ve been amazed by the support I’ve had from all the staff and Sharon, the owner, has been unbelievable as well letting us get this weekend sorted.
“It has been difficult. My mum got diagnosed when we were in pre-season.
“The gaffer said to take as long as you want back home and be supportive towards your mum and look after yourself.
“I was literally home 24 hours and my mum said ‘listen, I want you to go back to Bolton and keep doing well and it would make her happy’.
“That’s what I’ve done. I’ve come in every day and tried to stay positive. Football has been a bit of a distraction for me.
“I take all my anger out on the pitch with what’s going on at home. It’s been devastating but I just try and stay as positive as I can for my mum really and try and keep her happy.”
Both teams will be subject to change but names currently in the frame for the All-Stars XI include: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Jay Jay Okocha, Nicky Hunt, Gudni Bergsson, Sam Ricketts, Ricardo Gardner, Stelios Giannakopoulos, Chris Eagles, Kevin Davies, Henrik Pedersen, David Lee, John McGinlay, Gavin McCann, Mike Whitlow, Alan Stubbs, Richard Sneekes, Mark Davies and Bolton-born McFly singer and guitarist Danny Jones.
Former midfielder Fabrice Muamba – whose career was prematurely ended by the cardiac arrest he suffered while playing for Wanderers in March 2012 – is also expected to attend.
Tickets, priced at £5 and £10, for the game on Sunday 14 November (KO 1pm) are still available via the link HERE
Anyone wishing to donate to the fund to help Karen and the fight against MND via a Just Giving page can go HERE
And to watch a full interview with Gethin, click HERE