Island rallies round for Leo, four

By by Jackie Turley Twitter: @iomJackie in Community News

The island’s community is rallying round a family who are urgently trying to raise £150,000 for their four-year-old son to receive treatment in the United States.

Manx mum Karen Keefe’s son Leo ’The Lion’ is battling a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer, sPNET.

He has already had two operations to remove large tumours, intensive chemotherapy and battled septicemia.

But the results of the latest scan revealed that one -possibly two - tumours have already grown back.

The family is raising the money for Leo to receive proton therapy, an advanced form of radiation treatment that’s not available in the UK.

To be effective, he would need to receive the treatment at the clinic in Oklahoma soon after he has another operation at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, set for Wednesday next week (February 8).

Mum Karen said: ’The only thing that the radiologist thinks can save Leo and still give him a relatively normal life - but it also has to be quick - is proton therapy.

’It really is Leo’s last hope for a life and I have to take it.’

Four of Karen’s childhood friends, Emma Gibson, Tessa Burrows, Lindsay Quayle and Anna Featherstone are holding a ’Leg it for Leo’ fundraiser on Douglas seafront on Saturday.

Starting from the cafe kiosk near the Bottleneck car park at 9am, fundraisers are invited to walk/run or cycle the distance of the TT course (or part of it).

Participants are asked to wear yellow and entry is £5.

Emma, who has been friends with Karen since they were at Onchan School together, explained: ’We are doing this as we can not sit idly by and see a small boy die and know we could have helped.

’Also for his parents to be able to say they have tried everything possible.

’We all have families and we can not imagine going through such an awful situation and having to worry about money on top of this.’

Karen, who grew up in Onchan, now lives in Spain with her husband Jorge and eight-year-old daughter Sophia.

The family has been forced to spend a lot of time apart with Jorge and Sophia in Spain while Karen is with Leo at Alder Hey,

Other fundraisers for Leo taking place in the island are a squash tournament at the NSC on Sunday, February 12 from 10am to 6pm.

With Leo’s cousin Sean being a former island junior champion, the sporting community is being urged to show their support

For more details on the tournament contact Rob Boyles on 477061.

To make a donation visit

Follow the family’s progress on the ’Leo the Lions fight for survival’ Facebook page.

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