Putting cancer on the spot
WHEN his dad was diagnosed with cancer, Dexter Dynamou needed something to keep his spirits up.
The eight-year-old from Downend loves football, so his mum suggested a challenge to raise money for the hospital where dad Ben was being treated – and Dexter's 8 Hour Sponsored Penalty Shoot Out was born.
Christ Church Junior School pupil Dexter set up a page on fundraising website JustGiving.com, with a target of raising £20 in sponsorship online. Within two days he had raised more than a hundred times his target, with the total passing £2,000.
Ben, 39, was diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer in August. He is currently undergoing intensive chemotherapy treatment at the Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre.
Staff at the hospital have given him a positive prognosis but he is spending anything from three days to a week at a time as an inpatient receiving his treatment.
Ben is an assistant coach for Whitchurch Sports, the team Dexter plays for, and mum Lynda Wilkins said the pair played football whenever they were together before Ben went into hospital.
Lynda said: "The diagnosis was a shock – you don't think it's going to happen.
"When I first told Dexter he was extremely upset, because when children hear the word cancer, automatically they think the worst.
"Kids are very resilient and he's taken it well but I thought to myself, what can we do that can help Dexter keep his dad's spirits up? Let's do something positive.
"Dexter's obsessed with football and he watches YouTube channels with football challenges, so we thought we would do a penalty shoot-out.
"This has really helped him. It's given him a brand new focus and goal, and it's picked his dad up as well.
"He knows the money is helping the oncology centre and if he tells his friends why he's doing it, they will tell their parents and it's raising awareness."
Arsenal and Bristol City fan Dexter, who has a sister, Millie, aged one, will be undertaking the challenge at Action Indoor Sports in Whitchurch from 10am until 6pm on October 13. The venue has agreed to open on a Sunday and allow Dexter and his family to use its facilities free of charge.
Dexter's friends from school and his football team will be coming to help – and to go in goal.
Writing on his JustGiving page, Dexter said: "I'm doing a charity fundraising penalty shoot-out for my Dad because he sadly has cancer and I just want to help him and make him feel better.
"All the money that I raise I want to donate to Bristol Oncology Centre, that is doing a brilliant job helping my Dad.
"Me and my dad are big football fans and that's what we love. We also love Arsenal, even though we can't play football together at the moment. And I thought the best thing to raise money is to show him and other people my football skills."
All the money Dexter raises will go to charity the Friends of Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre, which helps patients and staff by purchasing equipment, funding research and improving the hospital's environment. The charity is currently raising £2 million to buy a new linear accelerator machine for radiotherapy treatment.
To donate, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/dexterspenaltyshootout.