“Keep moving forward, because that’s what heroes do!”

Monday, June 29th, 2020

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Samuel is a young man whose epic personal fundraising challenge has completely blown us all away. Samuel, who is nearly nine, set himself the goal of running/walking 9km around his hometown, a kilometre for every year of his young life. His mother, Charlotte, picks up the story:

“Samuel […] was born very premature and very small, he weighed just 800g. He had a stroke when he was 3 days old that destroyed nearly all of the right side of his brain and left him with little chance of survival. He has since had major brain surgery that has left him with very little use of his right arm and a weakness of his right leg. He has walking aids and a wheelchair.”

“Just like any young boy he is discovering computers and games. He wants to be able to play like his friends but computer games are designed to be played with 2 hands making it virtually impossible for him to take part, as a result he sits and watches others play. The wonderful charity SpecialEffect have assessed Samuel’s movements and have adapted a games console and controllers to allow him to play games just like his friends. He will be able to play with them and be competitive.”

The family contacted our specialist assessment team to see if we could help, and we asked them to send us videos of Samuel’s movements so that we could gain a more detailed picture of his abilities. We’re currently using online support as an alternative to in-person visits as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, so following a subsequent video assessment call we sent him a selection of carefully-chosen equipment from our extensive tech loan library. This custom setup included two switches for foot operation, plus mounting accessories that hold the controller securely in the right position, so that he doesn’t have to.

It was following the support he received from SpecialEffect that Samuel and his family devised the 9km challenge – aka ‘Samuel’s Marathon.’ Backed by a roster of famous sporting faces, including Olympic Gold Medallist Sir Mo Farah, Samuel set off from home with his father on Sunday, cheered on by friends and family. And 3 hours and 3 minutes later, this the pictures below show the scene as they crossed the finish line having clocked-up what turned out to be almost 10km in the end!

We hadn’t realised that the family was planning a thank you until a JustGiving fundraising page appeared, announcing a 9km challenge. ‘Samuel is running 9km (1km for each year he has survived) for SpecialEffect because they have enabled Samuel to play like his friends.’ it began. ‘He has been practicing his running and walking throughout lockdown so I am confident he will do this. He is a very determined boy.’

So on a warm June Sunday, buoyed by good luck messages from famous sporting faces including Sir Mo Farah, Samuel set off from home with his father, who himself has had to relearn how to walk after severe leg injuries a couple of years ago. “It was tough towards the end,” said his Charlotte, “but hundreds of supporters cheered him on for the final two kilometres.”

Just over three hours after they began, and applauded by friends and family, there were jubilant scenes as they crossed the finish line, and there was more excitement to come – the family had kept our loan equipment secret as a surprise for Samuel after his run, and he was overjoyed.

“He played FIFA… for the first time and it was amazing to see him so happy,” said Charlotte. It’s for people like Samuel that we’re working so hard, but we couldn’t have helped him – or offer help in the future – without your (or his!) magnificent support.”

“He’s such a positive happy boy,” said Charlotte. “His motto is, and I quote, ‘Keep moving forward, because that’s what heroes do!’”

We wanted to take this opportunity to say a huge CONGRATULATIONS to Samuel and his wonderful family for this remarkable achievement, as well as a heartfelt THANK YOU for the simply staggering amount of donations raised – over £5000!

boy and father running