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Rain didn't stop charity runners

PUBLISHED: 17:06 05 May 2010 | UPDATED: 11:41 23 August 2010

TRAGIC LOSS: Ben Johnson.

TRAGIC LOSS: Ben Johnson.

HUNDREDS of friends from across the country turned out to complete a run in memory of a teenage leukaemia victim and raise an estimated £20,000. Celebrity comedian Joe Pasquale opened the event on Sunday at Gravesend Rugby Club in memory of Ben Johnson.

HUNDREDS of friends from across the country turned out to complete a run in memory of a teenage leukaemia victim and raise an estimated £20,000.

Celebrity comedian Joe Pasquale opened the event on Sunday at Gravesend Rugby Club in memory of Ben Johnson.

Neil Johnson, Ben's father, was amazed by the show of support from people who knew his son with the atrocious weather failing to dampen the runners' spirits.

He said: "I was actually taken aback by the number of people who turned up. The youth of today get a lot of bad publicity but we had the best of them here.

"What with the weather I wasn't expecting more than the 50 hard core and even they would have had a good excuse to stay away so it truly was amazing."

Ben Johnson, 17, died suddenly from the cancer in November 2007, prompting his parents Neil and Donna and sister Jade to set up the Ben Johnson Forget Me Not Foundation which supports families affected by cancer and charities devoted to the blood cancers.

Mr Johnson, of Cross Lane East, Gravesend, revealed Jade, 22, had returned from the middle of her travels abroad to be involved in the run.

He added: "She had such hassles what with the volcanic ash but was able to fly home from Kathmandu, do the run and then was back on a plane to South America to continue her gap year."

The family has organised the fun run, 24 laps of the rugby club's field, approximately 12 miles, for the past three years and collected around £25,000 in 2009.

Mr Johnson said: "It is hard to know what we have collected at this time, it can take months, but judging from the number of people running I think we should be looking at around £20,000.

Higham resident Joe Pasquale is a patron of the charity and Mr Johnson reserved the highest praise for the comedian's efforts.

"I can't say enough good things about the guy. He was here in the pouring rain, doesn't charge a thing and was so funny and engaging, a really genuinely nice guy," he added.

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