Sheffield Wednesday captain Reda Johnson is calling on supporters to help him raise £10,000 for a local school serving children with special needs.
Johnson is backing Norfolk Park School in their bid to raise funds for specialist equipment to enhance the education of pupils with severe learning difficulties and complex medical needs.
The school has launched an appeal to finance a ‘Magic Carpet’ – a sensory learning tool which projects interactive games onto the floor and responds to even the slightest of movements.
And Reda has kicked off the campaign by donating £5,000 from his own pocket after visiting Norfolk Park and forming a special bond with one student.
Nine-year-old Sophie Hindmarsh suffers from a condition that limits her movement and as a result can only communicate through eye movement, rarely reacting to others, especially strangers. However, remarkably, Sophie smiles at the sight or sound of Reda.
The generous Owl was so moved by her plight, one week later, not only did he return to hand a huge cheque to a surprised headteacher but he also pledged to do everything he could to raise the remaining £5,000.
“I’ve been touched by Sophie and the pupils of Norfolk Park,” Reda explained. “I didn’t know about conditions like hers but now I do and I want to do everything I can to help.
"I try to help people in my home country of Benin when I go back there but I also want to help people here, in Sheffield, people need help everywhere in the world.”
The school has since set up a Just Giving page for their charity, Friends of Norfolk Park School and Reda is encouraging fans to give anything they can to the Magic Carpet Appeal.
He added: “I hope the fans can see why this is so important to me because this equipment will improve the lives of these children every day they are at school.”
Headteacher Jane Vickers said the staff at Norfolk Park were overwhelmed by the player’s contribution: “We all are so grateful for Reda’s generosity.
“It was plain to see how our children had touched his heart when he visited and the money that he has donated will benefit all of the children enormously along with his fund raising efforts.”
To help Reda reach his £10,000 target visit the Friends of Norfolk Park School’s Just Giving page HERE or text GIVE07 £2 (or any amount) to 70070. You can also follow Norfolk Park School on Twitter at: @NorfolkParkSch.