Tomas Cardillo-Zallo, from Kingston-upon-Thames, who has a learning disability and autism, is taking on the 2022 TCS London Marathon this October – one of the biggest events in the fundraising calendar – for learning disability charity Mencap, to raise awareness and raise vital funds.
Tomas, 31, who has also previously taken part in the Special Olympics, will be one of over 200 Mencap runners – including six runners with a learning disability – taking on the iconic 26.2 miles route from east to west London, via the Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge and The Mall.
This year Tom will be running with his guide runner, Alex, who has supported him with his 16-week training regime and will help to keep him on pace during the marathon.
Tomas, who was inspired by his mum to take up running and has now taken part in more than 100 Parkruns, will be running the London Marathon for the third time having ran virtually in 2020 and again in 2021.
In 2020, Her Royal Highness, The Countess of Wessex, who has been Patron of Mencap since 2004, joined Tomas to run part of his virtual London Marathon route in support of Mencap. The Countess of Wessex ran 1.5 miles with Tomas to represent the 1.5 million people in the UK with a learning disability and help raise awareness of the charity’s cause to change attitudes towards people with a learning disability for the better.
The Countess ran alongside Tomas in Windsor Great Park; part of the 26.2-miles route which also saw him run along the river Thames to his home in Kingston-Upon-Thames. With the support of The Countess and a relay of family members, Tomas completed his first ever marathon to show what people with a learning disability can achieve with the right support.
Tomas has a learning disability and autism but that hasn’t stopped him from representing Surrey in skiing and bowling at the Special Olympics, as well as playing for Sutton United Football Club’s disability team.
Every penny raised by Tomas will go towards funding Mencap’s life-changing programmes, which aim to tackle stigma and help people with a learning disability lead happy and healthy lives.
Talking about why he is running the 2022 TCS London Marathon for Mencap, Tomas Cardillo-Zallo says: “I’ve always loved running and I’m so looking forward to finally running in London after running the marathon virtually for two years. I’m excited to see the sights and hearing the crowd’s cheer. There’s nothing like it.
“I’m proud to raise money for Mencap because they support people like me. I know the money raised will help so many people with a learning disability.”
Taking inspiration from athletes like Jessica Ennis-Hill, Paula Radcliffe and Mo Farah, Tomas’s participation in sport has seen him become an inspiration to others. Tomas’s Mum Sue Cardillo-Zallo says: People have been inspired by what Tomas does, especially others with a learning disability, who have taken up sports and activities in the local area.”
Edel Harris OBE, Chief Executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, says: “We are delighted that Tomas, along with over 200 other runners, will be taking on the 2022 TCS London Marathon to raise vital funds for Mencap.
“All of our runners will be helping to raise awareness about learning disability and in turn raise vital funds for our programmes, which are needed now more than ever. Join me in supporting Tomas by cheering him on, on the day and by donating to his fundraising page. Through your generosity and encouragement, we can continue to support people with a learning disability to lead happy and healthy lives.”
There are around 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK and they face huge inequalities everyday of their lives. They are more likely to be socially isolated, nearly twice as likely to be inactive and die on average over two decades earlier compared to those without a learning disability. Mencap want to change this, supporting them to lead happy and healthy lives, campaigning tirelessly for their rights and fighting stigma and discrimination.
Founded in 1946, Mencap provides the highest quality frontline support to thousands of people with a learning disability, while ensuring that people with a learning disability and their families and carers can get help through the charity’s helpline, online support services and lobbying and influencing work.
Together we can improve the lives of people with a learning disability now and into the future. To find out more and donate, please visit: www.mencap.org.uk/event/2022-tcs-london-marathon