Marathon runner's death inspires $1M in donations

By Updated at 2012-04-25 19:34:10 +0000


LONDON (AP) — Donations to the charity supported by a 30-year-old woman who died during the London Marathon topped $1 million on Wednesday as thousands took up her cause.

Claire Squires entered the race to raise money for an organization that helps prevent suicides and had collected about $800 online before she set off on the 26.2-mile course on Sunday. By Wednesday, the fundraising total in her name had reached $1.1 million with more than 60,000 donations.

Squires collapsed near Buckingham Palace near the end of the race, and her death has touched hearts in Britain and beyond.

"It's just overwhelming ... the generosity of people and what Claire has actually achieved," brother-in-law James Birrell told the BBC. "Something good has unfortunately come out of something bad."

The flood of donations is going to the Samaritans, which works to prevent suicide and usually raises around $6 million annually from individual donations.

"For Claire and the Samaritans, please keep the donations coming. Don't stop giving, just like her," the family said in a statement. "It's what she would have wanted ... words cannot explain what an incredible, inspirational, beautiful and driven person she was."

Squires is the 11th participant to die in the London Marathon since it started in 1981. She had climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with a friend last year to raise $2,400 for the Royal Air Force Association.

"Claire is an inspiration to us all," said friend Nicola Short, who was on the trip. "She brought laughter and love to everyone's life."

The family still doesn't know what caused the 30-year-old hairdresser from North Kilworth, England, to collapse and die.

"It is hard to understand. She was young, fit and strong and had really been looking forward to the run," said Simon Van Herrewege, Squires' boyfriend. "She was an amazing person who was always doing stuff for charity and to help others. This is a difficult time for her family."