Leeds United’s players have shown plenty of battling qualities during their table-topping start to the season under Marcelo Bielsa.
But, as even the biggest Whites fan will agree, their efforts on the pitch pale in comparison to the courage demonstrated day in, day out in hospitals across the city.
And United stars Luke Ayling and Adam Forshaw saw that life-affirming spirit for themselves when they met some of the little fighters being treated at the congenital heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary.
The players took time out from their busy training schedule to visit the ward following the announcement of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) as the club’s charity of the year.
Working alongside medics at the LGI, the CHSF supports children and adults born with congenital heart disease.
And its role was hailed as just champion by the United pair during their visit to the hospital, where they also met staff and the families of some young patients.
Speaking to Leeds’s LUTV in-house television station, Adam said: “We’ve both really enjoyed coming down here, it’s never easy seeing families going through such hard times but if we can help put a smile on their faces even if it’s just for half a day, it’s always worth it.
“It was great to see that we had chosen to partner up with the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, just walking around the ward we could see all of the things they help to fund on the ward that make it a nicer place for the children having to spend their time here.”
The CHSF tweeted a message of thanks to the players for their visit, saying: “There were so many smiles.”
United and the charity are aiming to provide new equipment such as life support and dialysis machines on the back of their partnership.
Other funds raised will go towards the refurbishment of the CHSF family unit at the hospital, which currently consists of seven bedrooms, a kitchen and a lounge area.
And United will also be laying on a series of money-can’t-buy experiences at Elland Road and their Thorp Arch training ground for young heart patients and their families.
An online donations page has been set up in support of the fundraising which can be found by searching for ‘all leeds all heart’ on the Just Giving website.