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Dream day of football fun for WellChild Award winner Ruky

By Charlotte Edwards · November 3, 2023

WellChild Award winner, 14-year-old Ruky Anighoro from Thamesmead was given a day to remember thanks to the Chelsea Foundation. Football mad Chelsea fan, Ruky, won the Special Recognition category in the 2023 WellChild Awards, in association with GSK, which celebrate the resilience of children and young people, like Ruky, living with serious illnesses or complex medical needs.

Ruky has a form of brittle bone disease and has undergone many surgeries and endured numerous fractures and pain due to his condition. His mother, Ufuoma nominated him for a WellChild Award to recognise his courage and ‘unbreakable spirit’ which led him to remarkable achievements despite the challenges he faces. Ruky was delighted at the WellChild Awards ceremony in September to receive a signed pair of boots and a video message from one of his favourite Chelsea players, Ben Chilwell, inviting him to the training ground.

This surprise was organised by the Chelsea Foundation, who also sponsored Ruky’s WellChild Award category, and was the first of many treats laid on by the Foundation to give Ruky and his family the experience of a lifetime.

The day began with Ruky, along with his dad (Odafe), mum (Ufuoma), and sister (Faith) meeting with Chelsea TV’s Lee Parker in the press room. Next, they had a surprise visit from former Chelsea captain, John Terry, who sat with the family and discussed their mutual love for Chelsea. The surprises kept coming as Ruky had a tour of the facilities where he met one after another of his heroes, including Head Coach, Mauricio Pochettino, before heading out onto the pitch to watch them in training.

“I really liked meeting John Terry, it was a big surprise, as was meeting my favourite current players Ben Chilwell, Raheem Sterling, and Reece James. Ben gave me a signed copy of EA Sports FC 24 which was amazing, and I will remember this day forever.”

Ruky

At the end of training, the whole squad joined Ruky to sign memorabilia and have a group photo, completing a day which Ruky’s mum Ufuoma, described as: “a dream come true and he will treasure this for a long time.” She continued:

“We’ve always dreamt of taking Ruky to a Chelsea match or bringing him to the training ground, but this has gone way beyond what we’d ever be able to do for him. For a child like Ruky, who loves football but can’t play, for Chelsea Foundation to make this day happen for him, to meet the players is so amazing and I’m really grateful.

“Ruky has been through a lot in the past few years.  Winning a WellChild Award has been a big confidence and morale booster for him.’’

“We’re very proud to have Ruky as a 2023 WellChild Award winner. It was a joy to partner with The Chelsea Foundation this year who sponsored Ruky’s ‘Special Recognition’ award and have gone above and beyond to create some fantastic memories with Ruky. By joining forces like this it allows us to really shine a light on the inspirational stories of our children, young-people and families.”

WellChild CEO Matt James