A Sheffield boy has vowed to walk a marathon during lockdown – despite having cerebral palsy and autism.
Tobias Weller, aged nine, has been inspired by Captain Tom Moore’s 100th birthday walk and extraordinary fundraising efforts to walk his own marathon to raise money for both Sheffield Children’s Hospital and Paces School.
The youngster, dubbed Captain Tobias by friends, could only manage 50 metres at the start of lockdown with the aid of his crocodile walker, but is now covering 750 metres a day outside his home in Sheffield.
Initially, he set himself a fundraising target of £500. It is now at £23,000.
After walking over 23km, the youngster is determined to finish the marathon totaling 42.4km.
On his JustGiving page, the youngster said: “It’s been quite a week. I’ve smashed the halfway point, smashed my £20,000 target, and been in lots of newspapers.
“The best bit for me is my neighbours clapping and cheering for me. I absolutely love it when people clap and cheer for me.”
Tobias’ mother, Ruth Garbutt, set up the online appeal.
She said she is ‘very proud’ of her son’s achievements, and believes the lockdown has brought her family closer.
“The lockdown has been a challenge at first, especially with a child who has autism, because of the upset in Tobias’ routine. But now he has settled completely into a routine of being at home doing his schoolwork and doing his regular exercises for his mobility,” she said.
“We are having a lovely time doing lots and lots of things that we wouldn’t normally be able to do during lockdown, and we’re making so many new memories. My son has achieved a massive goal, and I’m bursting with pride for my little boy,” she added.
Tobias attends Paces Sheffield, which specialises in supporting families, children, and adults, with neurological conditions. The money for Paces will go towards a new home, which will be a new national centre for conductive education.
For Ms Garbutt, the money raised will be a ‘thank you’ for their support during lockdown, which according to Ms Garbutt has been ‘second to none.’
“Without this school, Tobias would not have made nearly as much progress as he has done and continues to do so,” she said.
Julie Booth, Head of Fundraising at Paces Sheffield said: “We are extremely proud of Tobias for taking on such a huge challenge to support Paces.
“He is an inspiration to us all and gives us hope that we will build a new home for Paces so we can help children and adults like Tobias in the future.
“Tobias you are an absolute star. It’s a fantastic achievement, and what an incredible young man you are,” she added.
Abbie Pervin, Regional Fundraising Manager at Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “We want to say a huge thank you to Tobias from everyone at Sheffield Children’s for taking on this amazing challenge.
“He is such an inspirational youngster, wanting to push himself and raise money for his two favourite charities. The amazing amount he has raised will make a huge difference to the hospital at this difficult time and we wish him the best of luck,” she added.
You can visit Tobias’ fundraising page here.