KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb. 10, IWN – At a football match this time last year, Martian King would have been decked out in the costume that caused him to be become the nation’s de facto sports mascot.
But, at the matches at Victoria Park Sunday evening, he did not have the large national flag, draped from a long piece of plastic tube. His face was his natural complexion rather than painted in the nation’s colours: blue, yellow and green.
A cushion was on the collapsible chair on which he sat, wearing an “I am Vincy” t-shirt. He had a bandana, bearing the national emblems, tied around his head.
He chatted with many people and interrupted the conversations to collect the $10 some persons paid for an “I am Vincy” t-shirt.
And, although he was never a burly man, King had lost a lot of weight but not the antics that endeared him to his customers when he was a food vendor up to about seven months ago.
King, 41, fell ill during Carnival last year.
He was diagnosed with colon cancer.
And, on Sunday, two charity football matches were organised to raise money to help pay for his medical expenses.
Cancer, he told I-Witness News, has had a “serious impact” on him.
“… I can’t work. I can’t take care of my family,” the father of four children — ages 14, 12, 6, and 3, said in Dialect.
“I have my four kids. Right now, I can’t take care of them. My common law wife is not working,” he further stated, noting that all his children are in school.
The situation has taken a toll on King’s children.
“… my two sons, are taking it on. I often feel a lot of pain and my [12-year-old] son, from the time I took ill, he just changed. He doesn’t even want to go to school,” King told I-Witness News.
Before King fell ill, he was a food vendor, selling meals under the gallery at the Salvation Army Building in Kingstown.
He said doctors have told him that he needs radiation and chemotherapy.
“The most important thing I need is the radiation … to keep me alive.”
He is trying to raise $30,000 to pay for medical treatment and has solicited $6,000 from persons and businesses in Kingstown.
“People donate to me. A couple business places gave me money…” he said, adding that the government has also promised to help.
“I am trying to go to Cuba. I went to the government seeking help. They told me they will help me, but raise some money — which I have no problem with. Right now, I need help as quickly as possible,” King further told I-Witness News.
King was heartened by the football matches on Sunday, the first of which was between a team bearing his name — Marty Eleven — and Combine Eleven, which had among its players Central Kingstown representative and former president of the local football federation, St. Clair Leacock.
That match ended in a 3-3 draw.
“This event is good. It feels good. The atmosphere is good and … I can see the love that the people have for me.”
King emerged as a veritable mascot for the nation’s sports teams, especially soccer because of his love for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“I just love my country. I want to let people know that there is nowhere like St. Vincent. No matter where they go, there is nowhere like home and my country is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I have travelled already. I have proven that,” King told I-Witness News.
“I have developed a love for my country and I want to use it as an inspiration. I want to let the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines know that they have to learn to love their country and appreciate what they have,” he further stated.
Persons willing to donate to King or his family can do so through account number 87050 at St. Vincent Co-operative Bank or can contact him at +1784-454-8153.