João Miguel Botequilha, a severely disabled student at Escola EB 2 in Quarteira, was the envy of his classmates recently when retired Benfica player Sheu interrupted lessons to present João with a signed football shirt. João suffers from Guillain Barré Syndrome, a disease that causes muscle paralysis and loss of feeling in the body.
After a fall at school some years ago, causing more complications, he is likely to be permanently wheelchair-bound. Due to the severity of João’s condition, he is unable to manipulate his wheelchair without assistance, which means he has little independence. After hearing about his situation, Algarve based charity, ACCA, organised a Golf Pro-Am to raise funds and buy an electric wheelchair for João, giving him back some of the independence he needs.
Then the ACCA contacted Benfica FC and arranged for Sheu – one of João’s favourite players – to be at the school for the wheelchair presentation. João was over the moon with his new wheelchair, though the real treat of the day was to talk face to face with his idol.
João’s parents are in constant talks with Loulé Câmara to try to resolve the lack of wheelchair facilities at the school, but, as of yet, have had no luck in convincing the câmara to invest money into solving the problem. For further information on how you can support the ACCA charity, contact Jane Oliphant on 919 383 593 or Susanne Lastein Guerra on 919 383 591.