On Sunday 22nd April, American Dustin Erhardt ran the London Marathon for his buddy Samuel and to raise money us.
Dustin met 7 year-old Samuel through the organisation I Run 4 which pairs runners and special needs children and adults so that the runners are motivated by their special buddies, and the special friends can finally find a way to run even if they can’t literally do so themselves.
Dustin, who lives in North Dakota in the USA explains: “I had the honour of being matched with an amazing little boy named Samuel, who has autism. He has become like a nephew to me and while I was training we exchanged pictures, videos, medals, encouragement and so much more. In training, with every mile that got tough, I knew he was right there with me encouraging me to keep going.
Cerebra has given me the amazing opportunity to meet Samuel and run the London Marathon with him there cheering me on in person. Samuel’s little sister Phoebe has a rare genetic condition and she suffers from epilepsy, autism, delayed speech and a hearing condition. So for me, supporting a charity like Cerebra is not only important for all children it is very near and dear to my adopted family. Together we can bring awareness and support for all of those that live with brain conditions”.
Cerebra have supported Samuel’s family and his little sister Phoebe so it was great that Dustin could run and raise money for us.
Samuel and Phoebe, along with mum Gemma and our Events Coordinator Cecilia Bufton waited at the finish line on the day, eager to cheer Dustin on as he approached the end of the gruelling 26.2 mile course.
Gemma said: “Samuel was so excited to be at the finish line to welcome Dustin home.
We’d tied Cerebra balloons to the railing so that he would be able to spot us and when he came round the corner Samuel’s face was a picture! Samuel coped really well with the noise and the bustle – the disabled waiting area was a lot quieter and his ear defenders helped. He really liked watching all the mascots – particularly someone dressed as Big Ben!
It’s been great to finally meet Dustin and we’ve loved having him to stay with our family. We’ll definitely keep in touch. It’s been a fantastic experience.”
Dustin enjoyed the whole experience: “I’m so grateful to Cerebra for giving me the opportunity to run in the London Marathon. On the day it was quite hard – very warm with the sun beating down – and I decided to slow my pace to make sure that I made it to the finish line. In the end I finished in 5hrs 44 mins.
It was an amazing experience – the sights of London, the sheer number of people, and the spectators were incredible, handing out orange slices and chewy sweets for sugar. So many people were running for charity, it was emotional and motivational.
To finally meet Samuel and his family after two and a half years of being in touch was indescribable. They are my family now too. To run for Cerebra and help raise awareness for brain conditions as well as support such a great cause was so motivating for me.”
Dustin has so far raised an incredible £2248 for Cerebra, surpassing his initial target of £2000. You can still donate through Dustin’s Virgin Money Giving page.