A young terminally ill Sheffield United fan has fulfilled two dreams –meeting his favourite player and leading his beloved Blades out in front of more than 25,000 people at United’s game against Ipswich Town at Bramall Lane.
Seven-year-old Harrison Parker met his hero – United striker Caolan Lavery – and exchanged gifts with the Blades star before enjoying a kick-around with the United forward on the pitch at Bramall Lane.
Meeting Caolan, as well as Blades mascot Captain Blade, and leading United out at Bramall Lane, are all on Harri’s “things to do before I pop it” bucket list. The handwritten list also includes simple things such as a day out at the zoo, driving a digger, riding a horse, watching an ice hockey match and “other fun things.”
Following the Ipswich game, Harri became a hit on social media with more than 100,000 people seeing a post on Sheffield United’s Facebook page about his visit, and hundreds of well-wishers offering kind words to the Killamarsh-born youngster.
Harri was born with a congenital heart disease known as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) – a condition which means the left lower pumping chamber of Harrison’s heart hasn’t developed properly, meaning his heart is unable to pump blood around the body effectively.
To prolong and give him a better quality of life, Harri has undergone three open-heart surgeries – the last in November 2013 – as well as countless other procedures, at Leeds General Infirmary.
The young Blades fan went along with mum Jeni and sister Maddie and enjoyed another special treat ahead of kick-off when, without his mum knowing, Harri led the United team out ahead of the game.
Harri’s mum, Jeni, said: “We’re incredibly grateful to everyone at Sheffield United. Harri has said that last Saturday was the best day of his life. I have one very happy young man.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the messages of support from both inside Sheffield United and fans on social media. It was a day we will never forget.”
United forward Lavery said: “It was a pleasure to meet Harri. What a courageous lad.
“It makes you realise that you can be positive even if things are really tough. I’m so glad I was able to help him fulfil one of his wishes.”