Olympian Jessica Ennis-Hill to join Captain Tobias for fundraising effort

Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill says she will join an inspirational nine-year-old boy who has cerebral palsy when he completes his second marathon using a race runner.

Tobias Weller, known as Captain Tobias, has already raised more than £100,000 by walking a marathon and is set to complete his second distance event on Saturday.

He was thrilled when Sheffield superstar athlete Ennis-Hill, who won heptathlon gold at the 2012 London Olympics, agreed to join him for the final stint.

His mum Ruth Garbutt said: “We’re delighted that Jess has said she’ll come along on Saturday and race with Tobias.

“He’s absolutely thrilled and giddy beyond belief!”

Tobias said: “I’m chuffed to bits that Jess has said she’ll race with me but … I’m not going to give her a head start!”

His fundraising total stands at more than £133,000, which will be shared between Sheffield Children’s Hospital and the Paces School, Tobias’s special school in the city.

The young boy has been named Captain Tobias in reference to his inspiration, Captain Sir Tom Moore, who sent a message of congratulations when his fundraising passed the £100,000 mark.

He has even become an inspiration to others, with another young boy with cerebral palsy climbing a mountain after hearing about Tobias.

The nine-year-old has received a message from the Prime Minister and has been nominated for a number of awards to recognise his achievements.

Tobias began his latest challenge – dubbed his “Tobiathlon” – on June 14 using a three-wheeled race runner supplied by the charity CP Teens and has completed around 1.2km each day.

Coronavirus – Sun May 31, 2020
Coronavirus – Sun May 31, 2020

His proud mother said Tobias had done better than they could have ever dreamed.

She said: “It might be because he can run and he couldn’t run 40 days ago, and now he can simulate running using the race runner.

“It’s life-changing, that. He can get speed up and feel the wind in his hair, and it’s an incredible feeling for him.”

Ms Garbutt continued: “We’re looking forward to Saturday, that’s going to be really exciting.

“It will have taken 40 days and his last one took 70. We’ve had a few rest days – about one a week – because it’s more intense. When he runs, he runs in short bursts, then walks for a bit.”

One more rest day although I walked the equivalent distance anyway! I LOVE paddling in the sea, I haven’t done it for a couple of years as I haven’t been strong enough to use my walker properly but now my marathon muscles are strong enough to hold me, I can splash away. Woo hoo!! pic.twitter.com/yG6UG1Ov9U

— Tobias’s Marathon Challenges (@CaptainTobias9) July 24, 2020

Tobias has even made a range of t-shirts with his phrase “chuffed to bits”, which he is selling to raise money and awareness.

He has received continued support from friends and neighbours who cheered him on daily during his first challenge and has attracted new supporters on his new, flatter route – with passers-by handing over donations as they walk past.

Tobias, who also has autism, originally aimed to raise £500 when he began his fundraising effort.

Lucy Rathbone, regional fundraiser at The Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “We’ve been in awe of Captain Tobias’s perseverance and commitment to support Sheffield Children’s over the last few months with two incredible lockdown marathons.

“His story continues to serve as inspiration for people, not only in Sheffield but across the country and around the world.”

Julie Booth, head of fundraising at Paces, said: “Tobias is an inspiration to us all. He has achieved more than he ever thought possible and single-handedly taken Paces a significant step forward to getting a new home that will mean we can support more inspirational young people like him in the future.”

Donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ruth-garbutt-3