A young cancer patient has been flooded with messages of support from thousands of well-wishers from across the world in a unique display of unity - after she was given the devastating news that her treatment has failed.
Amy Usher, 22, from Wath, has a form of incurable throat cancer and doctors have taken the heartbreaking decision to stop treatment after numerous courses of chemotherapy failed to stop the spread of the disease.
But the brave youngster has shown incredible courage in the face of adversity and she is continuing in her attempt to raise tens of thousands of pounds to help teenagers battling the disease.
Amy is an avid Sheffield Steelers’ fan and her plight has been picked up by ice hockey fans from across the globe who have shown their heartfelt support in a number of unique ways in recent weeks.
An estimated 30, 000 spectators sang her name across 10 different ice rink venues at numerous fixtures, while scores of other fans brought homemade ‘For Amy’ banners to show their support.
Meanwhile, scores of ice hockey fans and players worldwide, including from places as far away as India and America, have posted pictures on social media holding up banners with her name.
Her positive outlook has also inspired hundreds of people to donate to her fundraising campaign, which is expected to raise about £25, 000.
Amy said: “It is overwhelming because it does make me feel that I am not on my own. It is not so scary because people are with me.”
The young ice hockey fan’s favourite player last season was Tim Spencer, who wore the number 21 jersey for the Steelers. She made others aware of this and the hashtag #HockeyFamilySticksTogether quickly spread across Twitter.
Thousands of fans hatched a plan to show their support by singing her name in the 21st minute at games played by the UK’s top ten teams across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Spectators at the Steelers’ game against bitter rivals Nottingham Panthers even put their differences aside to chant her name at their game last week. After a recent victory Steelers’ fans also started chanting ‘That ones for Amy’.
Meanwhile professional player Pascal Morency has also publicised her story on his Twitter account and urged people from across the world to show their support. Ice hockey teams from America, such as the New York Islanders, and fans from India have posted pictures of themselves holding up banners wishing Amy well. The pictures kept flooding in this week.
Steelers’ forward Pascal is also understood to have created a short video in which fans and players have offered their support.
The amazing outpouring of affection has also served to raise the profile of Amy’s fundraising efforts. The former forensic psychology student has been receiving treatment at Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield since she was diagnosed with cancer in February 2013. Even though treatment has now ceased, she still remains positive.
She said: “While ever you are having treatment, you think that something is happening, but when it stops it is scary. But there is no more of the sickness and I can be more of myself and as a family we can plan to do more things and just make the most of the time we have now.”
She has been hailed as an inspiration for helping her sister Beth to raise thousands of pounds to help other cancer patients.
Beth, 23, has completed a 10k sponsored run and the two sisters have organised other fundraising events to raise a total of nearly £7500.
Meanwhile David Simms, who helped to establish the Steelers’ in 1991, is embarking on an epic 85 mile sponsored walk with friends Neil Edwards and Elliott Hall from his home in Birmingham to Sheffield.
They aim to complete the trek over three days from March 18 to 21. Then on March 22, about 250 Steelers’ fans are expected to complete the eight mile Five Weirs Walk in Sheffield.
In addition, ice hockey fans at other teams have made donations and given over items such as player shirts to be auctioned off at charity raffles.
Collectively, fundraising is expected to top the £25, 000 mark. Proceeds will go to Weston Park Hospital’s Teenage Cancer Trust Unit, which Amy is supporting.
Mr Simms said: “Amy’s personality is infectious. She is so brave and she and her sister Beth are truly amazing. With everything that’s going on I think we will end up raising more than £25, 000. It has been a great effort.”
Helen Gentle, fundraising manager at Weston Park, said staff are “incredibly grateful” to everyone for raising “such an unbelievable amount.”
To support the various fundraising activities and for more information about how to get involved visit http://sssc.org.uk/sssc/content/five-weirs-walk-sponsored-event-charity-22nd-march-2015 or https://www.justgiving.com/Simmsey-and-Friends