All smiles as Run for Joel kicks off with splash of colour in Sandwell
"The sun is shining, so I think my boys have sent us the sunshine today."
These were the emotional words of Wednesbury mother Suzy Evans ahead of the colourful launch of this year's Run for Joel at Sandwell Valley Country Park this morning.
Held in memory of her son Joel, father Patrick and brother Adrian who were all killed in the Tunisia terror attacks of 2015, Run for Joel set out to raise money for the family of victims of terrorism.
Run for Joel 2018, now in its third year, saw people of all ages and abilities tackle a 5km or 3km route around the nature reserve. It was the first year where runners could opt to join in on a 'colour blast' and throw rainbow paint all over each other.
Suzy said: "It's lovely because Joel would have been the first person to actually plan all this and sort the event out, he'd be the first one to actually sign up and do it.
"It's horrible to think that he didn't make the tragedy as he would have been here doing it."
Joel was just 19 when he was shot while on holiday with his grandfather, brother and uncle in Tunisia.
Suzy added: "We were a bit worried about the rain yesterday but the sun is shining so I think my boys have sent the sunshine.
"It's lovely to see so many of Joel's friends, my brother's friends, even Joel's school teachers are all down here - we've had so much help from so many people, it's just great. I just want to thank everybody, its been amazing."
Suzy's youngest son Owen Richards, now age 19, was the only member of her family to return home from Tunisia alive after the tragedy.
He and his mother set up charity Smile for Joel soon after, as a way to help families devastated by homicide.
Owen said: "This is is our third Run for Joel event, but our first as a colour run. It's brilliant, the weather is just great. We've just been really excited by it all.
"We had so many people come from so many places. It's really humbling and lovely to see everyone smiling and having a laugh.
"That's what this is all about, Joel always put a smile on peoples faces."
Visit smileforjoel.com to learn more about the charity.