Big Brother’s Umbrella Assist Outshined Sun For Marathon Runner With Lupus

By Bree Sison, WBZ-TV

WEST BRIDGEWATER (CBS) – A West Bridgewater man gave a big assist to his little sister running the Boston Marathon.

Jeffrey Russell, 30, ran the last 12 miles of the course holding a child’s umbrella over his sister Jessie’s head to keep her from quitting.

“He knew I would have been very upset had I not finished,” said Jessie, 26.

Jessie was diagnosed with Lupus during her junior year of high school. The sun often bothers people with Lupus, so running a marathon was a gamble. By mile 14, Jessie felt terrible and thought she might need to stop.

“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.”

Big brother Jeff had followed her along the route, taking pictures and yelling encouragement. Jessie looked like she was fading and medical tent volunteers told her to be proud she made it to Wellesley.  The course was about to be opened up to traffic and water stops would soon be picked up. Jeff told Jessie to stop if she needed to.

“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 recalled with tears in her eyes.

Jeff ran into Littlebits Toys in Wellesley and bought a children’s umbrella with sharks on it.  He said the sharks reminded him of Jessie’s tenacity.

In jeans and work boots, Jeff speed-walked next to Jessie wearing her runner’s fanny pack.  The pair took it step by step until finally reaching the finish line at 7:16 p.m.

“I just love him.  I absolutely could not have finished without him there,” Jessie said.

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