Young Seagulls fan raises money to thank Albion in the Community for running his football session
A Brighton & Hove Albion fan who attends a football session for people with autism has raised more than £1,000 for Albion in the Community (AITC) by completing a sponsored silence.
Dan Brooks is a regular at the AITC session, which takes place at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre, and wanted to do something to thank the charity.
The 11-year-old from Newhaven had previously convinced his former school to take part in AITC’s Blue and White Day, and donated part of his pocket money to the charity alongside money he was given as a reward for good behaviour.
He was keen to raise even more and found the perfect challenge: a sponsored silence.
He explained: “I wanted to say thank you for finding a way for me to play football.
“I can’t play with non-autistic people as I find it too difficult and confusing. The other teams I tried before didn’t understand me and I had to leave.
“The coaches at the AITC session are very helpful and are good at understanding people with autism.
“I’m a lot happier now because I love football and Brighton & Hove Albion. I get to play at the same place the players train which is so cool!”
News of Dan’s sponsored silence spread, with fellow Albion fans quick to show their support. His target was £30. By the time he completed his challenge he had raised more than £1,000.
Staying silent for the entire three hours was certainly challenging for Dan. He used different techniques to stay focused, including looking at photographs of his Albion hero Maty Ryan for inspiration. The youngster says Ryan is his role model and the ‘keeper’s kind words to Dan whenever they’ve met have meant the world to him. He subsequently managed the silence without a single interruption.
His mum, Carla Brooks, is proud of her son’s achievement – and wanted to recommend AITC’s sessions to others. She said: “The opportunity to play football, learn social skills and spend time in the company of people who are completely accepting of him, has been the best thing we’ve experienced in a long time.
“We can’t thank AITC enough. Their support has been second to none. It has been life-changing for Dan.”
Having managed to stay silent for his challenge, it is only right the last word goes to Dan. So, does he have a message for everyone who sponsored him? “Thank you so much.
“It means a lot to me to be able to say thank you to AITC.”
Dan can be sponsored online at: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/danthematyryanfan.
For more information on AITC’s football session for people with autism, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.