Generous James makes wee Emma smile

James McClean.
James McClean.

The Derry aunt of a five year-old year girl with an inoperable brain tumour has thanked Republic of Ireland and Wigan Athletic star, James McClean for his “amazing generosity”.

In last Friday’s edition of The Derry Journal we published the story with the headline ‘Wee Emma needs prayers from Derry’. Later that day, the story was made available online and was read by Derry man and Republic of Ireland international James McClean.

James contacted Derry Journal reporter, Andrew Quinn, to ask him to put him in touch with Emma Cunningham-Marques’ auntie from Derry, Margaret Cunningham.

“I can’t thank James McClean and The Derry Journal enough for their help,” said Margaret Cunningham.

Emma Cunningham-Marques was diagnosed with a Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) in March this year. A DIPG is a tumour located in the middle of the brain stem.

“My son and two daughters love their wee cousin Emma so much and seeing James’ amazing generosity has really made us all so happy,” she said.

“James went out of his way to help us and I think he has shown just how genuine and generous a person he is. Some footballers have a bit of a reputation for being over the top but James McClean is a true gentleman because he went out of his way to help someone else when others wouldn’t.

“When I contacted Emma’s mum, Donna, to tell her the news she couldn’t believe it. Donna is so thankful to James and the people of Derry for their donations and support.”

James was in America with the rest of the Republic of Ireland squad at the weekend for an international match with Costa Rica.

The Wigan Athletic midfielder initially planned to take a signed Republic of Ireland jersey and present it to little Emma in hospital in New York but it was her birthday last Thursday and her medical team had agreed to let her spend some time at home in Florida so James was unable to meet Emma and her family.

Despite not being able to meet little Emma in person, Creggan Heights born McClean contacted Emma’s mum, Donna Cunningham-Marques directly to say he would send the Republic of Ireland jersey, which was signed by all the team, to the family home in Florida and he also made, what Margaret described as a “substantial” cash donation.

“The generosity of the people of this city is second to none,” said Margaret.

“I held a fancy dress party in my garden at the weekend and we raised over £2,200 for wee Emma. The staff at Nando’s in the Richmond Centre contacted me to say they want to donate and there have also been a few anonymous donations too. I can’t everyone who has helped us enough.”

Emma’s condition is considerable but her family have agreed to let her take part in clinical trials in the hope of reducing the tumour. She is the 14th child in the world to receive such treatment which involves the injection of chemotherapy drugs directly into the five 
year-old’s brain.

Emma’s mum, Donna, will auction the signed Republic of Ireland jersey off to the highest bidder and all of the money raised will go to the ‘Hope 4 Emmy’ fund.

If you would like to read more about Emma Cunningham-Marques’ story or to make a donation visit