Along with a host of other United legends, former Reds defender Clayton Blackmore took charge of a team in the Foundation’s Charity Challenge at Carrington on 21st June. He was trying to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, which is a cause that is close to his heart. In a special interview with mufoundation.org he reveals why the cause is so personal to him…
Can you explain why you feel compelled to raise cash for Cystic Fibrosis Trust?
We did a charity day for the Trust a couple of years ago. There was a girl there who was 29 at the time and suffering from Cystic Fibrosis, but within a year she had died. It really shocked me and alerted me to the disease. She’d seemed absolutely fine - a young, pretty girl – and to find out that she had died affected me. The life expectancy is only 31 years of age.
What impact did that have on you?
It had a big impact. I play every year in Dave Seaman’s golf day. There’s a young lad that has been playing in the tournament for the last few years, he’s 21 and has Cystic Fibrosis. They say he might not live beyond his 25th birthday. It really is shocking. He looks well at the moment so I’m hoping that continues. He’s close to me. If you look at him, he’s not got a care in the world. I played golf with him yesterday, which was just a practice game. But he beat me the last time we played and he’s improving all the time.
So what’s your aim?
The treatment is getting better, but it could be improved even more. I just want to raise awareness and, hopefully, lots of money for the cause. It’s very personal to me. There are a lot of great charities out there that could all do with our help, but when something affects you personally it really hits home and you really feel you want to do something to help. It’s just scary how somebody’s condition can change so quickly. It can be something as innocuous as a cold, and you struggle to recover from.
Why is so important that Manchester United and the Foundation support this cause?
It’s about giving people who get the disease a chance to cure it, or at least live a longer life. If you get to 50 or 60 then you at least feel like you’ve had a bit of your life, but can you imagine getting to 20 and you may only have a few years left? Just when you realise how good life can be, it’s going to be taken away. It’s sad.
What can people do to help?
Put loads of money into it! Money talks and it’s the only way that research will discover ways to treat Cystic Fibrosis more effectively. The more money we get for it the better. Whatever a charity does, you need money. I’ve always been the sort of person that money doesn’t really motivate me, but it’s very important to most things in life. In this case, it could mean giving somebody a better life, and what’s worth more than that?
Manchester United has teamed up with Cystic Fibrosis to support to help raise funds for a pioneering multi-dose gene therapy trial attempting to find a treatment for CF. Watch out for fundraising events at Old Trafford to raise money for the cause. To find out more about Cystic Fibrosis visit the Cystic Fibrosis Trust website.