Jessie Russell was struggling by mile 14 of the Boston Marathon last week. It looked like she wasn’t going to finish, that is until a little kid’s shark umbrella and a special person came to the rescue.
While many runners rejoiced in a sunny race day, for Russell, the blaze was a burden. The 26-year-old has lupus, which makes her particularly sensitive to the sun. Lupus is a disease where a person’s immune system attacks healthy cells. Photosensitivity is one of the disease’s many symptoms.
Though a little more than half way done with the race, organizers were going to start packing up medical tents and water stations ahead of Russell.
But that’s when her brother, Jeffrey Russell, who had been following her along the course from the sidelines to shout words of encouragement and snap photos, stepped in.
“I thought, ‘the medical tent is up there. I just got to get a little further and I can stop for a bit.’ Out of the corner of my eye, I see this person running at me,” Jessie Russell told WBZ-TV.
If she needed to take a break, her brother told her to do so.
“But he said ‘if it’s just the sun, I don’t want you to stop. I can be your medical tent. I can be your water stop. Don’t worry about any of that’,” Jessie Russell recalled to the news station.
Jetting into a local children’s store, Jeffrey Russell bought a blue kid’s umbrella with sharks on it. For the rest of the race wearing jeans and work boots, he speed walked with his sister holding the umbrella over her, WBZ reported.
Jessie Russell crossed the finish line at 7:16 p.m., and she said she owes it to her big brother.
“I just love him. I absolutely could not have finished without him there,” she told the news station.
Watch WBZ’s report: