Stories of overcoming the seemingly impossible are surfacing more and more, as a result of COVID-19’s attempt to limit and manipulate what used to be everyday life. Heroes of all kinds have stepped up to the plate, taking ownership by contributing what they can do instead of feeling bound by what they can’t. And not many excuses can be made after this 9-year-old boy from England set quite the example.
Tobias Weller is an autistic boy with a big heart for helping others. Right at the beginning of lockdown, he was determined to walk a sponsored 1k fundraiser. He said, “I’m chuffed to bits to raise loads of money. Other children who aren’t as lucky as me can benefit from the money that’s been raised.”
As standard and easy as that seems, it was a massive goal to Tobias, not only because of his autism, but because of another neurological disorder as well. Tobias also has cerebral palsy, making everyday things we may take for granted, such as walking and talking, more difficult for him.
After COVID-19 forced everyone into lockdown, Tobias’ original target goal became out of reach. But that wasn’t going to stop him. The 9-year-old had heard Captain Tom Moore’s story, how the 100-year-old war veteran pushed his walker to lap his own backyard in efforts to raise money for the NHS. Learning that this fundraiser raised $41 million inspired Tobias to believe and understand that the coronavirus wasn’t going to stop him from helping people either. So what did he do?
He decided to take on what he called a “ginormous challenge” and walk a marathon, despite his neurological conditions. And he did it. All 26.2 miles.
Tobias would go up and down his street, never letting up. He started with 50 meters a day, and with persistence and growing strength, he eventually was able to do 750 meters a day. No matter how much pain he was in or how difficult it was, Tobias kept pushing his walker, just as Captain Tom Moore did.
After 70 days, Tobias was cheered on as he completed the “final leg” of his fundraiser, the last 750 meters. Tobias’ mother, Ruth Garbutt, proudly awarded her son with a well-deserved medal at the finish line. Although his original target to raise money was only 500 euros, this little hero (now given the name Captain Tobias) raised over $111,000 to donate between Sheffield Children’s Hospital and his special school, Paces School.
When asked about his experience, Captain Tobias commented, “Every bit of it has been totally awesome. I love it when my neighbours clap and cheer for me. I’m getting stronger and stronger every day. It’s such a good feeling…It makes me feel really happy.”