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2020 Marathon March: Tom and Andrzej

Tom and Andrzej, took on this year’s Marathon March sponsored by Utilita, where 13 year-old Tom was the youngest participant to complete the full route.

Palace season ticket holders, Tom and Andrzej, took on this year’s Marathon March sponsored by Utilita, where 13 year-old Tom was the youngest participant to complete the full route.

Tom, who only turned 13 in September, has a rare chromosomal deletion and complex special needs. A massive Palace fan, football is important to him and although he knew he would find the walk extremely challenging, Tom wanted to take part in order to help others and inspire more young people to take part in future.

We spoke to the father and son duo to see how they found taking on their first Marathon March:

What was your highlight of the Marathon March?

Tom:  A key highlight was meeting other fans in our bubble and having social distanced chat with Shaun Derry who gave me some great advice. I am thankful for people who supported us throughout the walk and the family messages I got from the UK and USA.

Andrzej: Sharing the finish with Tom, who just turned 13 and has SEN, was an emotional experience. I am so thankful for the amazing organisers and great charity underpinning a great day out. The Palace legends and Eddie Izzard were committed participants – and fast! I loved being able to share the day with friends and fellow fans Pete, Charlie, and Archie (their dog!).

What does completing the march mean to you?

Tom: It meant the world to me. Seeing Selhurst Park and the lights at the end was amazing, but I still had some energy left and wished I could play on the pitch.

Andrzej: I miss the games and seeing our seats in the Arthur Wait stand at the end was a melancholy reminder of our current situation.

What was the hardest part of the day?

Tom: There was serious struggle in the last part of the march. My legs were burning but I felt that I should be like a Palace player in the last minutes of a game and push through the pain. My dad carried everything whilst we were on the walk and had to give me some tough love at mile 20 to help me push through.

Andrzej: I did have to give a tough love talk to Tom at mile 20. It was his only wobble in the whole day and I knew he was hurting, he had gone quite quiet, and Tom isn’t normally quiet! I love him very much, and know he has a reservoir of strength that he isn’t always aware of, so we talked it through on whether we should stop or not. He took a minute to reflect and then shot up and said: “Let’s do this. I can set an example” and off we went! I got a bit teary eyed at that bit.

Why did you want to take part in the Marathon March?

Tom: I have some difficulties and genetic differences. It is important to find ways to support other people and I loved doing this for a good cause. I hope I am an example for other young people to do part of the walk, no matter if you struggle with other things, you can do this and help other people too.

Andrzej: There were 3 key elements that I found inspiring. In the midst of tricky times where we can feel a bit isolated from the world beyond our homes, this is a chance to remind ourselves of the broader community we are part of. Supporting those connections help nurture us when things can feel dire. Secondly, I believe sporting families and fans should do their best to connect the joy of the game to lifting up the neighbouring community. Lastly, I couldn’t think of a better way to bring a moment of confidence to Tom as he turns 13. He deserves every chance to prove himself through events like this and find that inner strength that sits within him.

 

You can still donate to the Marathon March, and support our work with young south Londoners, HERE.

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