Can you help little Charlie and his family create lasting memories?
- Credit: Bill Smith - Archant
The Norwich Evening News today calls on our readers to help make what could be the last few months of a five-year-old boy's life as memorable as possible.
Almost two years of young Charlie Ryan's life have been spent in hospitals, enduring surgery and undergoing treatment for neuroblastoma –a cancer of the nervous system.
His body was riddled with the disease, but after bravely beating cancer once, it has returned.
As the Evening News reported on Wednesday, his parents, Sam Stroud and Tony Ryan, now face an impossible choice.
They could spend thousands of pounds putting him through clinical trials abroad with a small chance of success and a lot of pain to try and prolong his life, or they could let him enjoy the time he has left by fulfilling his boyhood dreams.
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In the wake of our story, generous firms have already stepped forward offering Charlie a helicopter flight, and a ride in luxury cars.
The Norwich City fan will also become a mascot for his favourite club when the Canaries take on Swansea at Carrow Road on April 6.
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The Evening News is now appealing for everyone who can help to join our Charlie's Angels appeal by donating or organising fundraisers to give Charlie the quality of life he deserves.
Saxon Air, based at Norwich International Airport, has already stepped forward, offering a helicopter ride above the city for Charlie on Easter Saturday.
Mrs Stroud, 36, said: 'It is incredible how the small things all help. It makes it so special for a little boy who has been through so much at such a young age - more than most adults could handle - but he has come out smiling the other end.'
She has kept the surprise flight under wraps out of fear her son would be too excited to sleep.
'He is so sociable and he just loves living life and he loves doing things like that,' she said.
Pilot Anna Loake, who will fly the helicopter, said: 'We get a lot of enquiries and we can't say yes to a lot of them but the family must have gone through a terrible time already. It is a privilege to be able to do it.'
Businessman and motor enthusiast Kevin Foley, who owns McDonald's franchises in the city, is also stepping in to help by organising a ride in a luxury car for Charlie.
The father-of-three said: 'I wouldn't even want to try and think how the family is feeling. If there is anything we can do, then we will do it.'
Since being diagnosed with neuroblastoma on New Year's Eve 2010, Charlie has endured 19 months of treatment, which included six rounds of chemotherapy, an operation to remove his tumours, 20 rounds of radiation and six months of intense immunotherapy.
He was given the all-clear in July 2012 and the family were looking forward to a normal life in their new home of Perth in Western Australia where they moved to from Norwich in 2008.
But last month doctors confirmed the neuroblastoma had relapsed and little could be done in the way of treatment.
Mrs Stroud said her son had been enjoying life so much since he beat cancer the first time that she can not yet bear to tell Charlie he is ill again.
Doctors fear he may only have six to 12 months to live with the cancer creeping into his brain.
The couple will return to Australia on April 7 with Charlie and their daughter Orla, three, but they retain strong links with their family and friends in Norfolk.
Yesterday family and friends in Hevingham raised £900 through a coffee morning, while a Norwich toddler group donated £50.
On Monday the couple's former colleagues in Norfolk police will hold a bake-off competition and cake sale among the officers in Bethel Street to raise more funds, with Charlie as the judge.
Money has also been raised in pubs from Malta to Clapham in London to help fund experiences for Charlie and the total now stands at more than £6,000.
As well as buying Charlie experiences he will never forget, the money could also be put towards clinic trials for the relapsed neuroblastoma abroad, but the family has not yet decided which path to go down.
•Can you help Charlie Ryan? To donate visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/charlie-ryan-our-superhero--2.
If you can donate or if your firm is able to offer Charlie a memorable experience, contact reporter Tom Bristow on 01603 772313 or email email@example.com.