THE FAMILY of a Dunchurch teenager who passed away from leukaemia are urging others to help children ‘live the life they deserve’ by raising money at Halloween, his favourite night of the year.
Fred Bennett’s Don’t Look Down Fund has been set up with Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG) to raise money for much-needed research into acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), after 14-year-old Fred passed away in May.
Since being launched in September, the fund has already raised over £5,000 – and his family are organising a special Halloween fundraiser in Fred’s name.
Fred’s mum, Louise Bennett, said: “Fred’s favourite night of the year was Halloween. Every year there was much excitement, from the costumes, the make-up, the pumpkins and severed hot dog fingers!
“With the restrictions in place this year, we would hate for it to be a low-key affair, even if trick or treating is cancelled.
“That’s why we’ve put together a ‘Halloween Heist’ challenge, where we want people to decorate their houses, have 24-hour movie marathons and tell ghost stories amongst other things.
“Kids can even spend the week dressed up as the Joker if they want to!”
She also invited parents and children to come up with their own sponsored Halloween-related challenges.
“The main focus is that instead of spending five or ten pounds on sweets to give out at the door, which nobody is going to be able to do because of the restrictions, they donate it to the fund instead,” she said.
“There’s lots going on in Dunchurch and we’d love as many people as possible from the wider Warwickshire area to get involved, raising as much money as we can, but having lots of fun, too.”
Fred was 13 when diagnosed with ALL in July 2019, after complaining of feeling tired and losing his appetite. When his glands started to swell up, Fred visited his GP who referred him for immediate tests.
Louise said: “Within hours, we were called back to A&E where we told that it was leukaemia. He was immediately transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital to begin his treatment.”
Fred’s doctors tried several methods of treatment at University Hospital Coventry, Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Great Ormond Street. These included chemotherapy, immunotherapy and Car T-cell Therapy, a new form of treatment that uses the body’s own cells by taking them out to transform in a lab before being put back in to fight the cancer.
Louise said: “Even though there were complications along the way, including a seizure and a positive Covid-19 diagnosis, we continued to be hopeful that the new treatment would work where chemotherapy had failed.”
Despite the new treatment giving hope to his family, Fred passed away on May 3, just nine months after his diagnosis.
Louise said the money raised will go towards helping CCLG find better, kinder and more effective treatments.
She said: “It will fund research into finding new cures and treatment plans, which we hope will also be kinder to children, with fewer side effects.
“We have set up the Don’t Look Down Fund in the hope that more children will get the chance to live the life they deserve.”
Visit https://tinyurl.com/yycmt9s3 for more details of the Halloween fundraiser, including how to donate and a list of activity suggestions.
Visit https://tinyurl.com/y4o5k6jq for more information about Fred Bennett’s Don’t Look Down Fund.