Marathon runner’s admiration for wheelchair-bound cousin will benefit Wandsworth disability charity

A dad from Putney who says he has always wanted to run in the London Marathon is about to do so – and his motivation is the devastating spinal cord injury which his cousin suffered when she was 10.

Sam White will be taking part in Sunday’s TCS London Marathon – on his 35th birthday – for national disability charity Back Up.

Sam said: “I was seven when my 10-year-old cousin, Ella, was in a car accident. Within minutes of us being home after a family holiday, the phone rang. It was my uncle. I just remember it being really bad news.

“Thankfully, Ella and her mum were alive but Ella had sustained a high-level spinal cord injury. She wouldn’t be able to walk again.

“But Ella was and is amazing. Nothing’s ever prevented her from doing what she wants to do, despite the all the challenges she faces every day. She’s been sky diving, she’s even got a job at Back Up. Ella’s an incredible role model.

“That’s why I’m running for Back Up. I have been inspired by Ella’s determination, resilience and bravery to not let this devastating injury prevent her from thriving and succeeding in life, both personally and professionally.

“The focus is always on what you can’t do as a wheelchair user. It should be the other way around. I have seen first-hand how life-changing a spinal cord injury can be, and how valuable the services Back Up provide are. They visited Ella in hospital. Meeting a team member with a spinal cord injury was incredibly empowering.

“When Ella was injured, there were very few services available for children. I am committed to raising funds and awareness for Back Up so that other young people with spinal cord injuries may also benefit from greater independence and continue to inspire those around them.”

Sam (right) with cousin Ella at a previous event (Picture: Back Up)

Based in Wandsworth, Back Up is the only charity in the UK that has dedicated services for children and young people with a spinal cord injury – providing activity courses to build confidence and independence, education inclusion toolkits for schools and family mentoring and support.

Sam, one of nine who will be running for Back Up at the weekend, added: “The London Marathon has always been on my bucket list.

“I’ve entered the ballot so many times and never got a place, so I am very, very excited to run it this year. It is going to be such an amazing day from start to finish, and I just want to enjoy every moment.

“I’ve supported friends and family over the last six or seven years – a group of us go in fancy dress and have a great time. I can’t wait to finally run it myself and see what my friends are dressing up as.

“The entire course, running past the incredible landmarks and seeing my baby daughter cheering me on, will be very special. She’ll be 12 weeks old on race day. I can’t wait to see her on the route, along with my friends and family.”

To support Sam and donate to #TeamBackUp, please visit

Pictured top: Sam in charity finery (Picture: Back Up)



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