7-Year-Old Runs Half Marathon for Recovering Friend

It’s not every day you meet a 7-year-old with dual passions for fitness and for helping others.

“He’s an extraordinary little kid, that’s for sure,” says Nicole Willoughby about her son, Timothy. “He keeps me very busy with his ideas. I can’t really say no when his intentions are good.”

Timothy’s latest idea is to run the Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon on Sunday, May 17 to raise money to help pay the medical expenses of his friend and schoolmate Randy Perry, who is recovering from a kidney transplant.

The goal of Timothy’s Run for Randy is to raise $5,000. The funds will go to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, a national charity dedicated to organizing and guiding communities in raising funds for transplant patients. Randy’s transplant cost about $750,000, most of which was covered by insurance, but the family still needs help paying for doctor visit copayments and prescription medications.

When Timothy developed the idea, Nicole sprang into action. She reached out to Randy’s mother to make sure it was OK, and then she started researching half marathons. She says it took some digging to find a race that would allow a child his age to compete. But why run a half marathon?

“He said he got bored with 10Ks and he wanted to run the longer distance,” says Nicole. “He’s been cleared by his doctor and she said more kids should be doing this. He’s going to know when his body is tired.”

It doesn’t seem like he’s going to run out of steam anytime soon. Timothy started running at the age of 5 and has completed several dozen 5Ks, 10Ks and triathlons.

IMG_6340“This is the kid who does the 10K and then asks to do the kids’ fun run and won’t take a nap in the car and runs around the house when we get home,” says Nicole.

Timothy puts the same tenacity into his charity work. In April, Timothy held a bake sale and the proceeds went to the Toledo Area Humane Society. Last year, he invited his entire school to his “Help the Animals” Birthday Bash at White Park in Lambertville and, instead of gifts, asked for donations of water, food, toys, and cleaning supplies also for the Toledo Area Humane Society. Enough items were collected to fill a long-bed pickup truck.

“I always tell Timothy, you need to help others when you can,” says Nicole, who served in the U.S. Air Force and would bring her son along when her unit volunteered. “It’s probably ingrained in him: Service before self.”

As Timothy prepares for Sunday’s run, he’s looking forward to playing with Randy once he’s recovered from his surgery.

“I think it would be nice for him to get better and do more stuff with families and friends,” says Timothy.