Six-year-old Erriszel 'Erryl' Cortez, whose story first appeared in Khaleej Times on March 23, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2005, only four months after arriving to the UAE to be with his parents.
His battle with the disease, which included a series of chemotherapy and occasional relapses, however, has not dampened his spirit, according to his mother Emilyn Cortez. Erryl, the only child of his parents, is currently confined at the Tawam Hospital in Al Ain.
"He has remained as strong-willed as ever, which also makes us want to go on and not lose hope. I am not ashamed to ask people for help if it will save my son's life,” said Emilyn.
Today, the emirate is expected to witness a large gathering of residents who will take part in a charity motorcade organised by the Filipino Offroad Auto Club (FOAC). The motorcade will begin at the Hyatt Regency Corniche in Deira at around 3pm and will ply the Dubai traffic until Safa Park in Jumeirah. A programme will be held at the park from 5pm.
"At the moment, we have actually lost count of the number of participants because we're continuously receiving calls from Filipinos and even other expatriates who want to join the parade," said Liza Concepcion, Chairwoman of FOAC.
Concepcion said the number of participants could go up to 1,000, each one of whom will be asked to donate Dh50.
“We have decided that 75 per cent of the proceeds will go to Erryl and 25 per cent will be given to the Dubai Charity Association. We will also purchase an air ticket for one of the runaway housemaids seeking shelter at the Philippine Overseas Labour Office,” Concepcion mentioned.
Emilyn said she and her family were overwhelmed by the support they have been receiving from the community. “Last week, we were already losing hope because Erryl's platelets count had dropped. But we keep receiving calls from concerned people expressing their support. Somehow, knowing that there are people who are also praying for with us, gives us strength as well,” she said.
Erryl and his parents are scheduled to leave for Italy on Sunday, May 27, for his third line of chemotherapy. "His doctors here advised us to take him immediately to the hospital in Italy when his condition is stable. He will have further treatment there before he undergoes the bone marrow transplant," Emilyn said.In an earlier interview with Emilyn, it was mentioned that the Cortez family needs more than Dh1 million to finance Erryl's medical treatment.
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