BEAMING a smile from ear-to-ear, brave Ethan John was cheered on by Royal Navy sailors as he completed the final leg of their epic 805-mile row.
The courageous nine-year-old thought he had won his battle against thyroid cancer but was hit with the heartbreaking news earlier this month that it had returned.
It was a revelation that stunned his sailor dad, Able Seaman Craig John.
But the diagnosis sparked an immediate reaction from Craig’s kind-hearted shipmates, who rallied round to tackle a 48-hour rowing marathon for charity.
The 45-strong team, who are part of the Mine Countermeasures Squadron 2 Crew 3 based in Portsmouth, rowed 805 miles – approximately the distance to Disneyland Paris and back, with schoolboy Ethan finishing the final leg of the two-day event.
Overwhelmed Craig said the crew wanted to take on the epic fundraiser in a bid to send his little lad to Disneyland Paris.
The sailor said: ‘The crew phoned me and said they were doing this and I was quite amazed to be honest.
‘The crew’s support has just been amazing, as well as everyone back home.
‘We just weren’t expecting it at all.’
The team aims to raise £3,000 to send Ethan on the trip of a lifetime to Disneyland Paris. And they are now appealing for people from the city of Portsmouth to rally and donate to their cause.
However, if the target is not quite met then the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Children’s Trust has pledged to donate the final amount in support of Ethan.
The charity will also offer on-going support to Ethan and his family over the coming months. Petty Officer Simon Smyth organised the event in less than a week.
He said: ‘We heard about Ethan’s diagnosis on Tuesday last week and by Thursday I had the whole crew on board to support this fantastic event.
‘We just knew we needed to do something and it’s been an amazing outpouring of support from the crew, the squadron and Royal Navy and Royal Marines Children’s Trust.’
Those who wish to donate to the cause are being urged to contact the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Children’s Trust and state your support for Ethan John and the Royal Navy rowing challenge.
Their contact details are: firstname.lastname@example.org or you can always give them a ring on (023) 9263 9536.