York boy, 11, with mitochondrial disease York Knights Date
Those were the words of 11-year-old Bill Gornall, from Holgate in York, after meeting the York Knights rugby players ahead of Sunday’s game at Community Stadium against the London Broncos, which Bill and his family will also be attending.
As The Press previously reportedBill suffers from an extremely rare form of the life-limiting mitochondrial disease MELAS, a rare condition that begins in childhood and primarily affects the nervous system and muscles.
Mito — as his family calls it — is a degenerative disease that affects the mitochondria in your cells, which provide 90 percent of the energy they need to function properly. When the mitochondria are unable to produce energy for the cell, it dies and the organ that the cell supports can fail.
Bill, who attends Acomb Elementary School and lives with his father, Sid and siblings Buddy, eight, and Olive, five, was diagnosed in 2020 and now has difficulty walking and requires a wheelchair to get around to move.
The York RLFC team contacted us after an article in The Press.
Matty Lewis, Commercial Director, said: “When we saw the article from The Press, we really wanted to reach out to Bill and put a smile on his face.”
“At York RLFC we pride ourselves on doing what is right and we are privileged to be able to offer something unique.
“It was an honor for us to bring Bill and his family to meet the Knights team and then invite them to Sunday’s game made perfect sense.”
“Sometimes we take the health of our own family for granted, and when you read Bill’s story it’s natural to imagine that they are a loved one and what kind of experiences you would like them to have.”
“The rugby league community is very special and we will always welcome Bill as part of our family.”
Sid said: “We were really happy with the reaction from the players. They were so welcoming and so good with Bill that they all took the time to chat with him.”
“We’re very excited for Sunday’s game and there’s evidence that Bill is letting the ball play at kick-off.”
“He took his autographed ball to school today and it’s now on his shelf.”
And Bill himself said: “It’s very special to me that people care so much about me.”
Soon after the diagnosis, Bill’s family were given the details The Lily FoundationThe UK’s leading mitochondrial disease charity and the largest non-profit funder of mitochondrial research in Europe.
Sid, a designer for Thor’s Bars, will compete in the Action Challenge Lakeland Ultra – a 100km loop around the lakes – on June 10th.
He said: “I’m doing it as part of the ‘Team Bill’ Just Giving Page which is currently £26,244 for the Lily Foundation. I hope to meet my minimum funding requirement of £595 before the end of the month.” . I did it in 24 hours last year and this year I’m aiming for 17 hours so the next few weeks will be all about training.”
Jon Mooney, Sid’s former work colleague and family friend, has also used his York-based coffee company YO1 Coffee Co to launch Bill’s Blend to raise money.
Bill’s Blend is priced at £8.50 YO1coffeeco.com
To continue following the family history, go to theirs JustGiving page here and on Instagram @bills_mito_battle
https://www.yorkpress.co.uk/sport/yorkcityknights/23529673.york-boy-11-mitochondrial-disease-york-knights-date/?ref=rss York boy, 11, with mitochondrial disease York Knights Date