The Leo Messi Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) have made a monumental move after donating €2.6m to complete the €30m funding needed to build the SJD Pediatric Cancer Center in Barcelona.
SNF director Panos Papoulias and Lionel Messi were both in attendance at the event, with the Barcelona captain and Barça Foundation vice president Jordi Cardoner laying the first stone for the new centre in the Education Building at the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu.
Private donors, companies and several other orangisations also produced a sculpture built out of 100,000 pieces of Lego. The monument spelt out the message "para los valientes (for the brave)" and will be hosted in the Pediatric Cancer Center's lobby once it is constructed.
The fundraising campaign for the centre began in 2017 and the €30m raised is the highest amount of public backing that Spain has ever received for a project of this magnitude.
The SJD, which will now become the largest pediatric oncology centre in Europe, will be able to handle 400 patients per year, which is a significant increase of 30 per cent on the cases handled at the Sant Joan de Déu.
Sant Joan specialises in maternal-infant attention and the treatment of different types of tumours.
Credit: FC Barcelona
According to Barcelona's website, the Pediatric Cancer Center will provide up-to-date advancements in battling cancer.
The building's construction will last for the next two years, with plans for it to be up and running in the second half of 2020.
"With this initiative, we continue to fight against the cruel disease that is cancer," Messi said. "Collaborating makes this easier. I am very happy to be able to make this dream come true."
Jordi Cardoner, the first vice president of Barcelona, said: "The Leo Messi Foundation, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the Barça Foundation have been collaborating on this project over the past few months, but I am happy to announce that the Leo Messi Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation have informed me that this project has now been successfully concluded."
Manuel del Castillo, the manager of Hospital Sant Joan de Déu, added: "It has been a very emotional event, but this finale, with the announcement of the donation, was a great moment.
"We were happy to have reached €27m, but the final €2.6m donation has been amazing.
"We are very grateful for the contribution made by the Barça Foundation and the Leo Messi Foundation, as well as those of the other donors, but above all we are grateful for the visibility that they have given us."
Panos Papoulias, the director of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, commented: "The Barça Foundation spoke to us about this project and we were very pleased to help.
"We got in contact with the hospital which, along with the Leo Messi Foundation, have been the big catalysts of the project. It's a very nice collaboration for us. We hope that this project helps many boys and girls.
"We want to express our gratitude to the other collaborators for what has been achieved."
The Argentine magician has proved once again to be a class act both on the pitch and off it.
What a legend!
How many times will Messi score for Barça this season?
Let us know in the comments.
Featured Image Credit: FC Barcelona