A nine-year-old boy with cerebral palsy – named 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.
The young fundraiser has raised more than £46,000 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.
Tobias finished the challenge on Sunday to cheers from the whole street, which has turned out to support him throughout the challenge.
Police closed off the Sheffield road as neighbours hung bunting and balloons for the final 750m of his marathon fundraising effort.
Tobias said he felt “magnificent” that he had finished the walk and “chuffed to bits” that he had raised so much money.
He said: “I can’t believe I completed a marathon. It’s just awesome.”
He added: “I love it when my neighbours clap and cheer for me and getting stronger and stronger every day is such a good feeling.”
Tobias’s mother, Ruth Garbutt, said they were going to continue walking and would now aim to reach 50km.
She said: “I’m so, so pleased that he’s completed his marathon. He’s done really well. He’s tried so hard all the way through. He’s really achieved a massive goal.
“I’m bursting with pride for my little boy. He’s just magnificent.”
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.
Tobias is attempting to walk a marathon during lockdown. Please visit his just giving page to check out his story. https://t.co/fvFdQ9Ysmy— Tobiasâs Marathon Challenge (@CaptainTobias9) April 25, 2020
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.
“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.”
Our wonderful charity patron @J_Ennis also wants to tell @CaptainTobias9 how proud we all are of you!— Sheffield Children's (@SheffChildrens) May 31, 2020
Like the rest of us, Jess also thinks you've got this on your final day! Trust us, she knows a thing or two about crossing finishing lines!🏃ââï¸ pic.twitter.com/mFkcOuRJbu
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.
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.”
Donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ruth-garbutt-3