‘Captain’ Tobias Weller has become the second member of our Lionhearts squad, after completing an inspiring marathon of his own and raising almost £150,000 for charity.
The nine-year-old from Sheffield has cerebral palsy and autism, which means he cannot stand or walk unaided, but had been planning on completing a sponsored 1km walk in his local park in May.
Once that event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 lockdown and after seeing the achievements of honorary Lionhearts skipper, Captain Sir Tom Moore, Tobias set himself a new target – to complete a full marathon by walking up and down his street every day.
At the start, Tobias could walk a maximum of 50 metres, but through his own determination and spirit, was soon completing up to 750 metres each day.
And as he passed the finishing line for his 79-day marathon, cheered on by a crowd of local friends and family along with Team GB Olympic legend Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, his Lionhearts shirt was ready and waiting to be presented to him along with a message from his new captain, Sir Tom.
Ruth Garbutt, Tobias’ mother, said: “To be a part of the Lionhearts squad for Tobias, it’s just such a massive achievement for him. I’m so, so proud of him and what he’s achieved and how he’s taken it all in his stride.
“He’s shown great determination and character and I always knew he was going to do some great things with his life, but I just didn’t realise he was going to do them when he was nine-years-old.”
The Lionhearts initiative, supported by BT, aims to pay homage to 23 inspirational individuals who have gone above and beyond during this challenging time for the nation.
In the absence of international football this summer due to the postponement of UEFA EURO 2020, England’s focus will instead be on building a squad of true heroes that have stepped up during our time of need.
And after completing the marathon, Tobias was quick to thank his supporters and all who’ve donated to Sheffield Children’s Hospital and Paces School for Conductive Education – via his JustGiving page - over the course of the challenge.
The Sheffield United fan said: “To my neighbours and friends, thank you for clapping and cheering me every step of the way. To everyone locally, nationally and internationally who has supported me and donated, thank you, you are all awesome.”
Julie Bathie, one of his nominators, said: “Tobias is an intelligent, quirky and happy little boy with an amazing sense of humour and level of determination.
“He requires support with most tasks that we usually take for granted but he’s gone out every day in cold, wind, rain and I don’t think I’ve met a nine-year-old that’s like that who can achieve that.”
Further inductees will be made to The FA’s Lionheart squad over the coming weeks.
The squad so far...
1 – Captain Sir Tom Moore - Record-breaking centenarian who raised more than £32 million for NHS Charities Together
9 – ‘Captain’ Tobias Weller – Nine-year-old inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore to raise almost £150,000 for Sheffield-based charities