‘Well done Captain Tobias!’: Boy, 9, with cerebral palsy who could only walk 50m a day before lockdown completes his ‘ginormous’ marathon challenge raising £47,000 for the NHS – inspired by Colonel Tom Moore
- Tobias Weller, from Sheffield, completed challenge today to cheers from street
- Walked a total of 26.2 miles over 70 days up and down street outside his home
- Police closed off road as neighbours hung bunting and balloons for final 750m
- Raised more than £47,000 for Sheffield Children’s Hospital and Paces School
A nine-year-old boy with cerebral palsy – nicknamed ‘Captain Tobias’ by supporters – has completed his ‘ginormous challenge’ to walk a marathon using a walker to cheers from crowds of well-wishers.
Tobias Weller was described as ‘incredible’ and ‘an inspiration’ by celebrities and sports stars, who sent him messages of support ahead of the final leg of his journey, which began in March.
Before the outbreak of the pandemic, the schoolboy was ‘really struggling’ to walk 50m with his walker, but over the past few months he has increased his ability hugely.
The young fundraiser has raised more than £47,000 for Sheffield Children’s Hospital and Paces School by completing the 26.2 miles – or 42,195 metres – over 70 days on the street outside his home.
Tobias finished the challenge today to cheers from the whole street, which turned out to support him throughout the challenge.
Tobias Weller was described as ‘incredible’ and ‘an inspiration’ by celebrities and sports stars, who sent him messages of support ahead of the final leg of his journey today
Tobias revealed on This Morning earlier this week how he was inspired by 100-year-old WWII veteran Colonel Tom Moore, who raised more than £30million for the NHS by doing daily laps of his garden.
Police closed off his road in Sheffield today as neighbours hung bunting and balloons for the final 750m of his marathon fundraising effort.
Earlier, Olympic heptathlon champion Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, professional footballer Esme Morgan and BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker sent Tobias video messages wishing him luck.
England international Ms Morgan described Tobias, who could only manage to walk 50m when he began his challenge, as an inspiration and thanked him for raising more than 80 times more than his original target of £500.
She said: ‘You’ve done an absolutely incredible job so far to walk as far as you have and I know you’ve been building up and building up each and every day, which is amazing.
Tobias has raised more than £47,000 for Sheffield Children’s Hospital and Paces School by walking the 26.2 miles – or 42,195 metres – over 70 days on the street outside his home – inspired by Colonel Tom Moore
Speaking of Tobias’ inspiration, Colonel Tom Moore, pictured walking up and down his garden, Tobias’ mother Ruth told This Morning hosts Holly and Phil: ‘We saw him on the TV, and they’re so similar. They both use a walker, they both did the same walk every day’
‘Honestly, what you have done is an inspiration to so many people. Everyone at the hospital is so grateful for everything you’ve done, it’s absolutely amazing.’
Dame Jessica said: ‘I have been following your story and I just want to say I think you are absolutely incredible. What a challenge you’ve taken on.’
Mr Walker described Tobias as an ‘absolute superstar’ and added: ‘What an incredible young man you are. I hear you, like many others, have been inspired by Captain Tom and you’ve raised thousands of pounds for The Children’s Hospital Charity. Thank you for that.’
The money raised by Tobias, who also has autism, will help The Children’s Hospital Charity through its emergency Covid-19 appeal and Paces School, a non-maintained special school where the ethos is on children being challenged to reach their full potential.
The money raised by Tobias, who also has autism, will help The Children’s Hospital Charity through its emergency Covid-19 appeal and Paces School, a non-maintained special school where the ethos is on children being challenged to reach their full potential. Pictured on the final stretch this morning
Tobias has been nicknamed Captain Tobias by the friends and neighbours who have come out to cheer him in their dozens for weeks as he completes 750 metres of his 42,195-metre target each morning. Pictured today
Tobias pictured on Friday (right with his mother Ruth) completing one of his 750m laps before his big finish today
Ruth Liu, headteacher at the school, said the money would be used to help build a new ‘state-of-the-art’ facility.
She said: ‘It’s absolutely tremendous. Such an aspirational target he set himself and just very slowly and methodically he’s worked his way through it with sheer determination, and it’s an absolutely fantastic achievement. We’re so proud of him.’
Abbie Pervin, regional fundraising manager at The Children’s Hospital Charity, added: ‘We’re very proud of Tobias’s fantastic achievement. Not only the amazing total raised for the hospital but also the personal determination it has taken him to walk a marathon.
‘He thoroughly deserves all of the well wishes that he has received and the money he has raised will help thousands of children and families who depend on Sheffield Children’s. Thank you Captain Tobias.’
Speaking on This Morning, his mother Ruth Garbutt said she was ‘bursting with pride’ for her son, whose ‘confidence and self belief’ has increased massively while undertaking the challenge.
The schoolboy could only walk 50m a day before lockdown but has now completed a 26-mile marathon challenge
Ruth admitted it was a ‘massive challenge’ for him, explaining: ‘Tobias has got cerebral palsy, so he’s got a walker to walk and pre-lockdown he was walking a maximum 50m a day and really struggling to do that.
‘He was finding it hard work. We’ve now built up to 750m per day, most days. So it’s a massive challenge for him.’
She went on to explain that after Tobias was unable to receive his regular physiotherapy at school during the crisis, they took to walking down the road as a form of exercise.
Tobias Weller, from Sheffield, appeared on This Morning earlier this week with his mother Ruth Garbutt to speak about his challenge
Ruth said: ‘When we were first in lockdown we realised we were going to be in for a while – Tobias is vulnerable.
‘Tobias’ school provides physiotherapy for him, so I was going to be responsible for his physio and we needed to walk every day and we needed a routine.
‘So we started walking every day and he was desperate to do a planned sponsored walk, but we couldn’t do that.
‘Then we saw Captain Tom on the TV and Tobias said, “Hold on a minute, that’s exactly what I do! I want to raise money, so why don’t I do a sponsored walk?”.’
Donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ruth-garbutt-3
What is cerebral palsy and how common is it in the UK?
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects a patient’s movement, motor skills and muscle tone.
It is the name for a group of lifelong conditions that affect movement and co-ordination and is caused by a problem with the brain that develops before, during or soon after birth.
It affects around one in 400 children born in the UK to some extent.
In the US, approximately 8,000-to-10,000 infants are born with the condition each year.
The symptoms of cerebral palsy are not usually obvious just after a baby is born. They normally become noticeable during the first two or three years of a child’s life.
Symptoms can include:
- delays in reaching development milestones – for example, not sitting by 8 months or not walking by 18 months
- seeming too stiff or too floppy
- weak arms or legs
- fidgety, jerky or clumsy movements
- random, uncontrolled movements
- walking on tiptoes
- a range of other problems – such as swallowing difficulties, speaking problems, vision problems and learning disabilities
The severity of symptoms can vary significantly. Some people only have minor problems, while others may be severely disabled.
Speak to your health visitor or a GP if you have any concerns about your child’s health or development. There’s currently no cure for cerebral palsy, but treatments are available to help people with the condition be as active and independent as possible.
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