Let's back Zac: Thousands dress in red to help youngster - with pictures
Hundreds of schools and businesses turned red in support of Shropshire youngster Zac Oliver who needs specialist treatment for a rare form of leukaemia.
Thousands of people across Shropshire and beyond got involved in the #WearRedForZac event on Friday, raising money for four-year-old Zac.
More than 90 schools and 160 businesses, including supermarkets, restaurants and factories, turned red – and the effort is expected to add tens of thousands of pounds to the fundraising total, which stands at around £135,000.
Zac has even had the support of superstar guitarist Mark Knopfler, ex-England footballer Jermain Defoe and the Wolverhampton Wanderers squad. His family are trying to raise £500,000 to fly Zac to the US for specialist CAR-T Therapy currently unavailable on the NHS.
And Zac’s mother Hannah Oliver-Willets said she’s sure he will be getting onto a plane very soon. “In the beginning I kept saying that if we try, we’ll have no regrets,” she said. “It felt like an unachievable goal deep down.
“But now, because of this phenomenal response, I say we’re going to do this.
“There’s no doubt about it. We are going to achieve this and be on a plane very soon.
“It’s just incredible the amount of people who have decided to come together and support Zachariah.”
- Anyone who wants to support the fundraising campaign should visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/zac-oliver
- Anyone donating is asked to make sure they post a picture of themselves wearing red on September 28 on Facebook or Twitter with the hastag #wearredforzac
- People can also join Zac's Facebook support page which is called 'Zachariah's's fight against Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia'.
- People can also donate using their mobile phone by texting ZACH75 £1 to 70070.
Hannah said that the response had been very powerful for the family.
She said: “I can’t remember ever being part of anything like this in my lifetime.
“I cannot remember anything exploding to this level.
“It’s not just our local town, it’s worldwide.”
The first evidence of that came from Albert Jagger, a sheet metal engineering company from New Zealand. The company was perhaps the first in the world to mark #WearRedForZac.
The campaign has had an overwhelming response, bringing together thousands of people across Shropshire and beyond.
And the efforts will continue for the coming months, with concerts and fundraising events planned for October and beyond.
Among those collecting funds was Broseley CofE school where Zac is in the reception class, and Sam Aiston, the school's headteacher, said he had never seen anything like it.
"All of our children have gotten involved – 225 pupils have all come in red clothes, some with red nail varnish and hair dye," he said.
"Every class has raised over £100. People have been so generous, with parents bringing in £15 or £20 to add to the collection.
"Zac has been in our reception class, he's only been able to come a few times because of his illness, but it has captured the imagination of all the people in the community. It's a sad story, but it's nice that people are getting involved.
"I have never seen a response like this before. When I heard they needed £500,000 I thought 'my goodness', but everybody is on board and all the children are pulling out all the stops to raise some money.
"We've got a football matches going on, the whole of Broseley High Street is decked out in red. It's been a wonderful response."
Wolverhampton Wanderers posted a message supporting Zac and urging people to donate.
The short video, starring Conor Coady and Ryan Bennett, was viewed thousands of times on Twitter.
Coady said: "We're here to talk about Zac today who has been diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia."
"We're trying to get him to America to get him the treatment he needs," Bennett added.
Cardiff City's Ollie Eden joined the campaign as well – sharing the message to support Zac in both Mandarin and English.
RAF Cosford personnel swapped out their uniforms so that they could wear red for Zac – who came and visited with them and got to sit at the controls of a Jaguar aircraft.
Zac said that when he grows up he wants to be a "pilot palaeontologist".
And the Cosford social media manager replied: "Now there’s a job we’d all love.
"Zac, one day you will be the best pilot palaeontologist ever."
Social media support has been flooding in from people all over the world.
Twitter users big and small have been sharing Zac's message.
Suzi Perry, who was born in RAF hospital, Cosford, shared a link to his JustGiving page.
Anyone who wants to support the fundraising campaign should visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/zac-oliver
Anyone donating is asked to make sure they post a picture of themselves wearing red on September 28 on Facebook or Twitter with the hastag #wearredforzac
People can also join Zac’s Facebook support page which is called ‘Zachariah’s’s fight against Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia’.
People can also follow Zac's progress on Twitter @ZacAttacksBigC
To donate using a mobile phone by text ZACH75 £1 to 70070.