Joe and Johanna Costello, who are from Salford, are taking on their first-ever marathon this weekend, in memory of their well-loved friend Steven Keigher.
Steve was a long-serving colleague at Salford City Council who, earlier this year, sadly took his own life.
Joe (38), who worked with Steve, knew that he wanted to do something in his memory: “Steve’s death happened back in February, and I said to my team at work that I wanted to do something for him, I don’t want to try and let this just pass us by.
“You know it was a real wake up call for me when it happened because it came from absolutely nowhere, he seemed okay but then on the Monday, we got the news, he was gone.”
In honour of Steve’s memory, the couple are raising funds for Salford’s Red Devils Foundation.
“The week that Steve died, he was due to attend a mental fitness programme called Offload at Salford Red Devils Foundation.
“Offload is a mental fitness program which has been tailored and adapted to help support men, it focuses on building mental fitness and helps men to make ground and take control.”
Neil Blackburn, Foundation Director at Salford Reds Foundation added: “Our mental health programme, Offload, is vital to maintaining the wellbeing of our community.
“Providing males with the opportunity to access programmes which benefit their mental health outside of a clinical setting and in a non-intimidating environment is ever more important with the impact of Covid.
“We are extremely grateful to Joe and Johanna for their efforts and the monies raised will make a huge difference in us being able to continue our programmes in the community.”It’s still so hard to talk about now.”
“It’s still hard to talk about now”
To raise funds for the charity, the Salford couple have undergone 20 weeks of training.
Joanna (45), who works as a pharmacist, said: “The training has been tough we won’t lie, because we’ve got two small kids, finding places to run or finding time to fit in the runs was difficult.
“It’s been tricky but at the same time, dare I say, it has been enjoyable.”
Joe describes Steven as being a ‘genuinely lovely guy’ and says that his death is still something he finds hard to talk about.
“Steven was very meticulous, he wrote with a fountain pen, he was also very neat and well-presented.
“He loved his BMW, his car was always immaculate, and he loved motorbikes as well, everything BMW really.
“His death ripped right between our team, it was horrendous, it’s still so hard to talk about now.”
Their fundraiser has now raised almost £5,000.
Johanna said: “It’s been amazing to see the variety of people who have donated, we can’t thank them enough.
“We’re really trying to push to reach £5,000 now, it would be amazing, we never imaged we’d raise this much.”
Joe added: “No one deserves to go through what Steve and his family went through, so to raise these funds and raise awareness about these issues, that’s all we want to do.”
The couple will be taking part in the 26-mile run this Sunday along with 30,000 other participants.
Joe continued: “We are petrified, emotional but so excited at the same time for the run, it is a mix of emotions but it will be good to get it finished.”
If you want to donate to Joe and Johanna’s fundraiser you can click here.