The five-year-old boy who has been hailed ‘a local hero’ by his community

A five-year-old football fan was cheered on by players from his favourite team on the last day of his fundraising challenge.

Thomas Dale had been raising money in memory of his big brother Jayden, who died on July 17, 2013.

He was raising cash for the Sunderland charity 4Louis by running 17 miles in 17 days around Shotton Recreation Park.

The County Durham lad raised £2,523.45 and his mum Zoe and dad John said they are over the moon.

Zoe said: “We are so proud of Thomas and the amount of money that he has raised. On the last day of his challenge, before he started his run, he had over £1,000 and when he finished it, he had made £2,523.45. We just can’t believe it.

“The community is now calling Thomas a local hero.”

Thomas had taken only nine minutes to run his mile and had loads of support along the way.

Zoe said: “Thomas is a massive football fan and he loves Leeds United.

“On the second last day, Leeds United Women’s Club ran with him and he was delighted. Then on Monday, we received good luck messages from Leeds United captain Liam Cooper and midfielder Kalvin Phillips.

“He was so happy when he got their messages.”

In their video messages, Cooper and Phillips wished Thomas good luck on his final mile.

Cooper said: “Hi Thomas, I just want to say congratulations and what an achievement it is to run 17 miles in memory of your older brother Jayden. I want to wish all best with your last mile and take care.”

Phillips said: “I just want to say a massive well done to young Thomas from Shotton Colliery. He’s running his 17th mile today in memory of his big brother to raise money for 4Louis.

“On behalf of everyone at Leeds United, well done, we’re very proud of you and all the best.”

On the day, Thomas had the whole community cheering him on while he ran with some even joining in. Zoe said: “The atmosphere was amazing on his last run.

“The whole community showed up to cheer him on and at the start, anyone could join in with him. His football team Shotton Colliery FC and staff at the Co-Op even ran with him too.”

The five-year old’s original fundraising target was £250 but he smashed it in 48 hours.

Zoe said: “We were surprised and delighted when we found out he reached his target within that time. When he found out he had reached his target, he was delighted and started running around the house.”

Zoe added: “Thomas has run every single mile with a smile on his face.

“John has ran with him for every mile and he hasn’t complained once. He ran everyday even if the weather wasn’t great, he still ran and didn’t complain.

“After his last mile, he then went off to football practice, he just doesn’t stop.”

A spokesperson from 4Louis said: “All of us at 4Louis are extremely proud of young Thomas and incredibly grateful for the money he has raised for us, which will help many other bereaved families.

“The determination he has shown to complete the challenge and remember his brother Jayden in this way is amazing. Well done and thank you Thomas.”

Chronicle Live – Sunderland