From Jeffrey Kofman in London
Claire Squires was just a mile from finishing the London Marathon last Sunday when she collapsed on the road to Buckingham Palace and died. It was the second marathon for the 30-year-old hairdresser from Leicestershire who seemed to delight in taking on epic challenges to raise money for charity. Last year she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise a few thousand dollars for the families of injured soldiers.
For Sunday’s run she had raised $800 for Samaritans, a British suicide prevention line. “I’m running the London Marathon for Samaritans because they continuously support others,” she wrote on her fund-raising webpage.
Perhaps it is that blend of humility and ambition that has so touched people here. Her modest fundraising has gone viral. By midday Tuesday her webpage had raised more than $675,000 and with donations rolling in at more than $1,000 a minute – almost all in small donations of a few dollars- it seems only a matter of time before her spontaneous memorial fund hits $1 million.
“An inspiration and an angel,” wrote one donor o who gave $8 on her webpage. “You created something amazing. R.I.P.,” wrote another.
And it has been amazing. Catherine Johnstone, the head of the charity that will benefit from this outpouring of collective generosity says she is overwhelmed.
“These donations will be put into a tribute fund and, following discussions with the family, will go towards projects they feel would have been important to Claire.”
Eleven people have died during the annual London Marathon. Squires is the first woman. The cause of death has not yet been revealed.
Her family is reeling at the loss, but touched by the massive outpouring in her memory.
To her brother-in-law James Birrell the response is a fitting tribute to a modest woman who never stopped thinking big. ”Claire to everybody is one-in-a-million. It wasn’t about Claire, it was what she was doing for other people.”