Marathon ef­fort to raise cancer funds

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS - By Kenji Sato

Dozens of peo­ple have dug deep into their pock­ets to help a five-year-old Co­bram boy in his bat­tle with acute B-cell leukaemia.

More than $2000 was raised for Stephen Atkin­son, who has been fight­ing his cancer for three years.

The fundraiser was started by Stephen’s cousin Oliver Arm­strong, who ran four marathons in two months to raise money for Stephen’s grow­ing med­i­cal bills.

‘‘I felt I had to do some­thing,’’ Mr Arm­strong said.

‘‘Stephen’s leukaemia has taken a mas­sive toll on his fam­ily and I wanted to help out.’’

De­spite never hav­ing run a marathon be­fore, Mr Arm­strong man­aged to run three 42.2 km marathons and one 100 km ul­tra-marathon since July.

His first ever marathon was the Gold Coast Marathon, fol­lowed by the Rain­bow Beach Trail Run, the Bris­bane Marathon and fi­nally the Sun­shine Coast ul­tra­ma­rathon, which took him 16 hours.

‘‘I’ve sur­prised my­self — I man­aged to cram in quite a bit in two months,’’ Mr Arm­strong said.

When he raised the idea of a marathon fundraiser with Stephen’s par­ents, they asked him to do­nate half of the funds to the Leukaemia Foun­da­tion to help other chil­dren with cancer.

‘‘There are so many other kids who go down to their trips to Mel­bourne to hospi­tal that are suf­fer­ing as much as Stephen is, and his par­ents wanted to share the money around,’’ Mr Arm­strong said.

Stephen is cur­rently at the Royal Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal in Mel­bourne re­ceiv­ing chemo­ther­apy and treat­ment for his many ch­est in­fec­tions, but has man­aged to keep a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude through­out it all.

‘‘Stephen is still a very bub­bly, happy, typ­i­cal five-year-old,’’ Mr Arm­strong said.

‘‘It’s pretty full-on for a five-year-old, but he hasn’t known life with­out cancer. It’s just a part of who he is, un­for­tu­nately.

‘‘Stephen’s par­ents seem to be fairly strong and to­gether. They’re mak­ing the best of a bad sit­u­a­tion, like any­one would.’’

Brave lit­tle man: Stephen Atkin­son at the Royal Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal.

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