Bubbly little girl inspires dad in Eastbourne Half Marathon and becomes first to complete the course in a wheelchair

A six-year-old has become the first ever person to complete the Eastbourne Half Marathon in a wheelchair.

Thursday, 7th March 2019, 2:19 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th March 2019, 3:20 pm
Shuan and Summer Finlay SUS-190703-110053001

Summer Finlay took part in the running event with her dad Shaun Finlay last Sunday (March 3).

The pair, who live in Hastings, were cheered on and high-fived by the crowd and fellow runners as they completed the route to raise money for a charity called Charity for Kids, which has funded Summer’s wheelchairs.

Young Summer suffers from spina bifida and is paralysed from the chest down.

Dad Shaun, 29, said, “She is such a happy, bubbly little girl and she has always been a fighter.

“Every challenge we give her she excels and we are so proud of her.”

Shaun says he is not a runner and this is the first event he has ever taken part in but he recently joined the committee for Charity for Kids to give something back the cause that has helped Summer.

He said, “I found it really tough and I hadn’t really trained – just a few long walks really. To say I felt the burn was an understatement.

“But Summer was such an inspiration, as she is for everything we do.

“She was telling me, ‘you can do it, daddy. You can walk if you get tired, daddy’.”

Shaun says the Eastbourne Half Marathon organisers were very supportive and while Summer was not an official entrant, they were pleased to have her taking part and confirmed she was the first participant to complete the course in a wheelchair.

The runners did not have the best weather for the event last weekend and had to contend with 50mph winds on Eastbourne seafront. Shaun said, “We nearly pulled her out because I knew it was going to take me three to four hours and that is a long time for a little girl in a wheelchair.

“We thought we’d play it by ear and we made it.”

St John Ambulance offered Summer extra blankets but she was already warm and snug in her favourite pink and purple blankets.

Mum Ann-Marie and Summer’s three brothers were at the finish line to congratulate them.

Search Shaun and Summer on the Virgin Money website to sponsor the pair.