Celebrities and sports stars have sent messages of support to a nine-year-old boy with cerebral palsy who is due to complete his “ginormous challenge” to walk a marathon using his walker.
Tobias Weller has been described as “incredible” and “an inspiration” by Olympic heptathlon champion Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, professional footballer Esme Morgan and BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker ahead of him beginning the final leg on his journey on Sunday morning.
The young fundraiser, named Captain Tobias by friends and neighbours, has walked 750 metres of his 42,195-metre target each day and has raised more than £43,000 for Sheffield Children’s Hospital and Paces School, his special school in the city.
His supporters have cheered him on in their dozens for weeks and are expected to give him his biggest socially-distanced boost yet when he sets off to complete the 26.2-mile total on the street outside his Sheffield home.
We know just how hard this has been for you @CaptainTobias9, a truly #ginormouschallenge!— Sheffield Children's (@SheffChildrens) May 31, 2020
Your story has captured the hearts of the nation, inspiring people far and wide and our patrons are no different.
They have sent us these messages to share with you! We hope you like them! https://t.co/M3hwf8pS8H
Patrons of The Children’s Hospital Charity offered Tobias – who was inspired to take to his walker by the exploits of Captain Tom Moore – their thanks and best wishes in video messages.
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.
“Honestly, what you have done is an inspiration to so many people.
First up @England International and @ManCityWomen footballer @_esmemorgan who tells us how you've inspired her to work harder!— Sheffield Children's (@SheffChildrens) May 31, 2020
Esme also works out you've raised more than 80 times your first fundraising target for Sheffield Childrenâs and @Paces_Sheffield! How amazing is that?! pic.twitter.com/Nni8SQgMEM
“Everyone at the hospital is so grateful for everything you’ve done, it’s absolutely amazing so good luck for this weekend, do your best and congratulations on finishing your challenge.”
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 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. All the best with the last push. You are an absolute superstar.”
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
Tobias’s mother, Ruth Garbutt, previously said: “I’m bursting with pride about the progress he’s made.”
She added: “The support he gets every day here is just fantastic.
“Day after day, people have come out clapping and cheering him.”
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.
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.”