US runner takes on London Marathon for seven-year-old boy from Ely

PUBLISHED: 17:40 26 April 2018 | UPDATED: 17:40 26 April 2018

Dustin Erhardt, from North Dakota, met Samuel from Ely, who has autism, through the organisation I Run 4.

Dustin Erhardt, from North Dakota, met Samuel from Ely, who has autism, through the organisation I Run 4.

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A runner from America took on the London Marathon for his seven-year-old “buddy” from Ely and to raise money for a children’s charity that helps those with brain conditions.

Dustin Erhardt, from North Dakota, met Samuel from Ely, who has autism, through the organisation I Run 4. Dustin Erhardt, from North Dakota, met Samuel from Ely, who has autism, through the organisation I Run 4.

Dustin Erhardt, from North Dakota, met Samuel from Ely, who has autism, through the organisation I Run 4.

It pairs runners and special needs children and adults so that the runners are motivated by their special buddies.

Not only is it a way to make friends but it means children can finally find a way to run even if they can’t literally do so themselves.

Dustin ran the London Marathon for children’s charity Cerebra on Sunday.

Dustin Erhardt, from North Dakota, met Samuel from Ely, who has autism, through the organisation I Run 4. Dustin Erhardt, from North Dakota, met Samuel from Ely, who has autism, through the organisation I Run 4.

He explained: “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”.

Samuel, along with Gemma and Chris and Cerebra’s 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.

Mum 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!

“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 finished the marathon in 5hrs 44 mins.

So far he has raised 2248 for Cerebra, surpassing his initial target of £2000.

You can still donate through Dustin’s Virgin Money Giving page at: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=DustinRuns4Samuel&pageUrl=2.

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