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Marathon effort to raise cancer funds

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September 06, 2017

Stephen Atkinson at the Royal Children's Hospital.

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 42.2km marathons and one 100km 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 ultra-marathon, 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.’’

- Kenji Sato

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