Sunderland AFC fan set to run London Marathon in memory of Bradley Lowery
A Sunderland AFC fan is set to pay tribute to Bradley Lowery by donning his running shoes and helping other people in his honour.
Neil Burns, originally from Washington, is to take on the London Marathon in April.
He was inspired to take part in the 26.2mile event by Bradley, who died aged just six last July after a brave battle with childhood cancer neuroblastoma.
Bradley, from Blackhall Colliery, touched the hearts of people around the world with his story, gaining much media attention as a regular mascot for his beloved Sunderland AFC.
Among those he influenced was Neil, who will run the marathon in aid of the charity Neuroblastoma UK.
Neil, who will be 51 by the time the race takes place, said: “Everyone followed Bradley’s story really closely and his bravery inspired so many across the world, including me.
“I did the London Marathon and always wanted to do it again, and Bradley’s story gave me that push.
“Like Bradley, I’m from the North East and a Sunderland AFC fan, and this is my way to give something back to a charity which helped him and his family.
“In raising money for Neuroblastoma UK, I’ll be helping other children and families suffering from that terrible disease.”
Former police officer Neil moved from Washington to London for work reasons aged 19, and retired from the force last year.
He still resides in south west London, and is relishing the challenge of completing the marathon for the second time.
Neil – who has taken part in the Great North Run more than 10 times – added: “It was tough the first time I did it, as I’m by no means a natural runner.
“I’ll be 51 by the time the race comes around so it should in theory be more difficult this time.
“It’s not about setting a great time for me, though – it’s all about the fundraising and raising awareness for the charity.
“I’m hoping to raise £2,000 and anything beyond that will be a bonus.
“I’ll be wearing a running vest with Bradley’s face on the front of it and he will inspire me all the way through the race.”
To donate to Neil’s fundraising effort, visit www.justgiving.com/inmemoryofbradleylowery.