May 12, 2020 – With Bill Conti’s iconic ‘Gonna Fly Now’ theme tune from the 1976 hit movie ‘Rocky’ ringing in his ears, Kids Run Free (KRF) athlete Henry Cleary has taken up the challenge of running a marathon (26.2 miles) in 10 days to raise money for homelessness charity Crisis, lacing up his trainers after being inspired by Captain Tom Moore’s superhuman efforts – and he’s already raised more than £4,000.
The seven-year-old from Stoke Poges in Buckinghamshire was cheered on by number onefan Beatrice – his five-year-old sister – and plenty of well-wishers from the village who turned out to watch him start and complete the first instalment of the challenge on Friday, the same day Great Britain paid its respects and celebrated the 75 th anniversary of V.E Day.
Alongside Dad Jamie, Henry completed the first day of the challenge and actually ended up clocking up 5km (3.1 miles) in the sunshine; a great way to start the marathon.
‘Henry is a very sensitive, caring boy, and he wanted to do something to help people who needed it at this time after seeing the incredible efforts of Captain Tom. He saw him on the news and asked if he could take up a challenge to raise money,’ said Mum Emily Cleary. ‘He looked at lots of charities online, and chose Crisis – we’ve taken him to London to see the sights, but he also noticed people in sleeping bags on the streets and asked “why?” For him to be doing this to raise money for that charity is something we are so proud of and we would like to thank everyone who has contributed so far,’ she added.
Henry – a Star Wars aficionado – began running at the age of three, when his Dad took him to a local Kids Run Free ‘Park Kids’ event. He’s been a regular ever since, so much so he’s convinced his Mum to become a Race Director and set up a new Park Kids in their village once social distancing measures are relaxed.
Emily said: “My husband started taking Henry to a local park event soon after Beatrice was born, and Beatrice was running soon after she walked, they both love being active outside. “We moved soon after though and haven’t been able to get back to it very often. Having seen Henry’s dedication to this challenge, and how much his friends have cheered him on, I thought we should start our own event in our local park. Other families including Henry’s good friend Freddy and his mum Daisy are on board so we are really excited. Freddy has been cheering him on every day and got everyone else in his street out too, by dropping flyers through their letterbox!”
Backed by sporting behemoth Nike, KRF provides running opportunities for children from toddlers to teens, regardless of background or fitness levels. Founded in 2010, KRF operates two running-based initiatives – Marathon Kids in school time, and Park Kids at weekends and in the holidays – with more than 140,000 children having taken part in events across the country in the last decade.
Henry said: “I used to love going to the park on the back of my Daddy’s bike to run 100 metre laps. I always try to do better than I have done before and that’s why I have set this challenge for myself, because I want to inspire other children to keep running just like Captain Tom inspired me to do something. If Mummy and Daddy and their friends can organise something so me and my friends can run every week once this coronavirus is over I will be so happy.”
This year alone over 22,000 children are registered on the Digital Tracking System (DTS) which highlights how far children run. Youngsters completing Marathon Kids run laps of their school playground or sports field throughout the course of the year with a goal to complete up to four marathons, earning rewards as they go.
Park Kids works in a similar way enthusiastic volunteers inspire parents and their children to complete laps of a 250m space in a fun, safe environment. The distances accumulated in both Marathon Kids and Park Kids can then be added to the KRF running app.
INFORMATION: To donate money to Henry’s Coronamarathon, please visit
www.justgiving.com/Star-wars-fan. For more details on Kids Run Free, please contact [email protected]