Wasps Academy has today announced the launch of its charity campaign to raise funds for The Brain Tumour Charity. The #IAMASHLEYJOHNSON campaign, which has been conceived and developed by all 17 members of the Wasps Senior Academy as part of their off-field development programme, aims to raise £10,000 for the UK’s largest dedicated brain tumour charity.
The campaign celebrates the Wasps back row forward and Ricoh Arena favourite, Ashley Johnson, and uses his unmistakable hairstyle to appeal to fans to make a donation to the charity. The campaign title #IAMASHLEYJOHNSON is borrowed from the famous line in the 1960 film Spartacus, starring Kirk Douglas, and calls on all Wasps fans to show their love of Johnson by masquerading as him during Wasps’ huge Aviva Premiership game against local rivals Leicester Tigers in just eight days time.
All of the Club’s Academy players, armed with collection buckets, will distribute 15,000 Ashley Johnson wigs on the concourses of the Ricoh Arena before the game. Fans will be asked to donate a minimum of £1 to the charity in return for a wig and will be encouraged to share their photos on social media using the hashtag #IAMASHLEYJOHNSON. Supporters who are unable to attend the match will still be able to donate by texting WASP88 to 70070 followed by the amount they want to donate, or clicking here.
Starting today and continuing until match day, a series of photographs and short videos will be released via the Wasps website showing other rugby players, Wasps coaching staff and fans showing their support for the campaign. The campaign video can be viewed here.
The Brain Tumour Charity has particular significance for one player in the current Wasps Senior Academy squad. Harry Sheppard was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of just 13 years old after a scan for a suspected fractured cheekbone revealed a rare grade 1 benign tumour. However, after surgery to remove the tumour at King’s College Hospital in London and an extensive rehabilitation programme, the fly-half was able to continue to pursue his dream of becoming a professional rugby player.
19-year-old Harry Sheppard said:
"I am delighted that the Wasps Academy campaign will raise money for The Brain Tumour Charity – a charity which is extremely close to my heart. Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40. Research offers the only real hope of dramatic improvements in the diagnosis, treatment and management of brain tumours. The money raised will have a profound impact on the work that The Brain Tumour Charity is able to achieve, so I would urge everyone on Saturday 9th May, whether they’re a Wasps or a Tigers fan, to dig deep and show their support by purchasing a wig."
Ian Taplin, Wasps Academy Athletic Performance Manager, commented:
"Though the key objective of the Academy programme is to develop better players who have the required skill set to represent Wasps, it is equally important that we develop better people who are considerate to the needs of others and understand the types of behaviours that are expected of them as representatives of our club. This is the culmination of a season long fund-raising programme that the boys have organised; getting the club to agree to run with this idea is a credit to their creativity, drive and commitment. It is something they can be extremely proud of when they look out at the Ricoh Arena on the 9th May full of Wasps supporters sporting Ashley's hair and having raised a large amount of money for this worthy cause."
Sarah Lindsell, Chief Executive of The Brain Tumour Charity, said:
"We are so grateful to everyone at Wasps Academy for their incredible support and are immensely appreciative to all of those who have committed themselves to the #IAMASHLEYJOHNSON campaign. The money raised will make a real difference in driving forward our research into brain tumours. We receive no government funding and rely 100% on voluntary donations, so it’s only through the efforts of those like the Wasps that we can continue our work and bring hope to the thousands of people who are diagnosed with a brain tumour every year."
Tickets for Wasps versus Leicester Tigers on Saturday 9th May are priced from £15 and can be purchased at the Ricoh Arena, online by visiting the Wasps website or by calling the Wasps ticket line on 0844 847 1867 or via Ticketmaster website. For all hospitality enquiries please contact 02476 786410.