Jack Harrison asks Leeds United fans to support family cause and offers Chelsea incentive

Jack Harrison is asking Leeds United fans to support a cause close to his and his family's hearts and offering tickets for the Chelsea clash as an incentive.

By Graham Smyth
Thursday, 5th May 2022, 4:12 pm

The winger has a long history of fundraising and donating to charities, with his mum Debbie managing his philanthropy, and when a family friend received a devastating diagnosis the pair sprang into action.

Oliver Johnson, 16, was diagnosed with Leber Hereditary Optical Neuropathy [LHON] - a rare genetic disease affecting the eyes - last year after initially experiencing blurred vision.

The teenager's eyesight has now deteriorated to such an extent that it has had an enormous impact on life as he knew it. Oliver has had to give up playing most of his favourite sports and can no longer go to watch Queens Park Rangers games with his dad, while his GCSEs will have to be completed with verbal responses to aural questions.

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"It's turned our lives upside down, and his," said Richard.

"Prior to the diagnosis, he was a very active and sporty person, he still is to a degree because he's been running with his friends aided and he still swims, but he used to play football, tennis, golf occasionally.

"He was a gamer, he played PS5 like a lot of 16-year-old boys. He supports QPR like me and we've had to stop going to watch the games because he can't see anymore. It's affected a lot of aspects of his life but not least his education because he can't read particularly well now. Given that his GCSEs are coming up a week on Monday, it's radically changed how he can do them."

Treatment is available but expensive, so his family began raising money, setting a £30,000 target. That's the amount they've had to pay out so far for his medication. At the time of writing a sum of almost £20,000 had been raised through various activities, including charity runs that attracted hundreds in Chorley last weekend.

FAMILY FRIEND - Jack Harrison is raising funds for family friend Oliver Johnson, a teenager who has been diagnosed with a rare genetic disease that has left him unable to see.

Dad Richard told the YEP: "The NHS don't fund the treatment basically, so we have to pay on a monthly basis for the prescription. "They're very strong antioxidant tablets and in some cases it can cure the issue. Sometimes it stops it in its tracks. Sometimes it pulls it back. There are variables and the percentage of success is not particularly good, but there have been instances where these tablets have helped."

Richard and his wife Sheena are friends with David Harrison, Jack's Uncle, and got to know the Leeds star and his mum several years ago.

The Harrisons, who hope to raise a further £5,000, have arranged a prize draw to give away two tickets for Leeds United's Premier League game against Chelsea at Elland Road on May 11, with one of the winger's signed boots acting as second prize.

Entries can be made via a £5 donation on the crowdfunding page HERE and a winner will be selected on Saturday May 7.

The Johnsons are hugely grateful for the support of the Harrisons and everyone else fundraising or donating to Oliver's cause.

"Jack was obviously concerned when he found out what's happening with Ollie and they reached out and offered to do the crowdfunding that they're doing for us and and in a way publicise what we're doing as well," Richard told the YEP.

"It's amazing. Everyone is supporting us. We're so incredibly grateful but particularly with Jack being a Premier League footballer it's wonderful that he's taken time to support Oliver.

"It's good to see that Jack does a lot of work raising money for other people, I've seen other fundraising things he's supported. It's to his credit."