Basin Electric employee runs London Marathon for charity, autistic “buddy”

Dustin Erhardt, Basin Electric cybersecurity and compliance specialist III (second from right), ran the 2018 London Marathon in honor of his “buddy,” Samuel (lower left), a 7-year-old British boy with autism. Erhardt has been running for Samuel for three years and met him and his family in person for the first time on this trip.

Since starting to run as part of the group “I Run 4,” an international organization that matches runners with “buddies” who have special needs, Dustin Erhardt, Basin Electric cybersecurity and compliance specialist III, has been running for Samuel, a 7-year-old autistic boy from London.

“We are our buddies’ legs and they are our inspiration,” Erhardt explains.

Since joining the organization three years ago, Erhardt has run two full marathons, 11 half marathons, and countless five and 10Ks for Samuel.

He has also been communicating with him and his family, sending souvenirs and medals from the races they’ve run “together,” and Samuel’s family has been sending him pictures of Samuel and his little sister, who also has autism, as well as a brain condition that causes seizures and other issues.

Erhardt says Samuel has become like a nephew to him and he really wanted to meet him in person. And, because one of his long-term goals is to run each of the “Big Six” marathons, one of which is in London, he decided to try for that one first.

In addition to the runners who qualify based on race times, about 400,000 apply through its lottery system, but only about 17,000 names get drawn. Erhardt’s name wasn’t drawn in the lottery; however, because this event is the largest annual fundraising event in the world, 15,000 spots are reserved for runners representing charities, so he began to research this possibility.

That’s when he found Cerebra, a United Kingdom-based charity that serves children with brain conditions.

Seeing the connection between Cerebra and Samuel’s family, he applied for the one spot it had and was chosen to receive it, in exchange for fundraising for the charity.

Erhardt arrived in London three days before the April 22 marathon and was able to spend time with Samuel and his family before race activities began.

On race day, the whole family was there, as well as a representative from Cerebra, all greeting him at multiple spots throughout the 26.2 miles, and wearing “Dustin runs for Samuel” shirts he had made for them.

“This was by far the most impressive marathon I’ve ever seen, the whole country embraces it. The queen was the guest starter and there were over 40,000 runners and more than a million spectators,” he says.

Erhardt says his goal for the London Marathon was not to beat his personal record, but to enjoy every step of the journey. “I have the rest of my life to run for race times,” he says.

At the end of the race, Samuel and his family were waiting for him. “When I saw him at the finish line, he was waving his arms and had this huge smile on his face,” Erhardt says.

“It was an honor to be able to run this marathon, to be chosen to be Cerebra’s runner, and to tour London, but the best part was being able to meet my buddy and have him there cheering me on in person. It was a truly indescribable feeling,” he says.

Comments

  1. Kim Buntrock says:

    Way to go Dusty!!!!!! So who are the other people in the photo?

  2. Dustin Erhardt says:

    The others are my buddy Samuel, his parents Gemma and Chris, and the marketing director Cecilia from Cerebra. They were all waiting for me 200 meters before the finish line cheering me on! So Amazing!

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