Run for Joel kicks off with a splash of colour in Sandwell - in pictures
Hundreds of people splashed themselves with bursts of bright colour at this year's Smile for Joel charity fun run.
Run for Joel 2019, now in its fourth year, took place at Sandwell Valley Country Park this morning.
The race is organised by Smile for Joel – the charity set up by Wednesbury mother and son duo Suzy Evans and Owen Richards after the death of their three family members.
Held in memory of Suzy's 19-year-old son Joel, father Patrick and brother Adrian – Owen's brother, grandfather and uncle – who were all killed in the Tunisia terror attack in 2015. Owen was the only member of the family to return home from Tunisia alive after the tragedy.
Suzy and Owen set up the charity Smile for Joel soon after, as a way to help families devastated by homicide.
Run for Joel saw people of all ages and abilities tackle a 5km or 3km route around the park, with those taking part throwing bags of coloured powdered paint all over each other before setting off.
Queen of the Black Country Doreen Tipton officially started off both races – which she said was for a "great cause" – as well as taking part in the warm-up routines. BBC WM's Daz Hale and choir Anthem Voices, from Wednesfield, were also on hand to entertain the crowd before the races.
Among the runners taking part on Sunday was Matt Shilvock, who is running 5k every day for a year to raise money for Smile for Joel. Sunday’s race was his 251st run.
Suzy said: "I am so happy that the sun is out for Run for Joel – the boys have sent us the sun again especially, which is lovely.
"This our fourth Run for Joel and we have got around 500 people taking part in the runs – whether it is the 5km or 3km. Four years running and the event is still going.
"There's the emotional attachment. We've also got Matt who challenged himself to run 5K every day for a year for Smile for Joel – and Run for Joel is his 251st run.
"Joel, my dad and my brother would be amazed at how many people have turned out to remember them and what happened. It is not a memory walk but it kind of is.
"Joel would have been the first to sign up to this event."
Owen added: "I am really excited about the event – we have got that personal connection with it, we really want it to be successful because of what it means to us as a family.
"This event would have been right down Joel's alley – he did Bath and Birmingham half marathons. He wouldn't have had to do any training for this!
"I'm doing both races. It is just trying to make something positive and it is great to see so many smiling faces."
Also taking part in Run for Joel was Leicester City player Marc Albrighton, who is a patron for Smile for Joel. He has a special connection to the charity having lost his mother-in-law Sue Davey in the Tunisia attack.
He said: "Suzy and Owen both work so hard to make sure people are not left in a bad situation. What they both went through is horrendous that you can't imagine. But they have come out and tried to create something positive.
"I got involved with Smile for Joel about a year ago – it was a straight away yes for me.
"We lost my mother-in-law Sue in Tunisia and we have been close to Suzy since. Everything she does is fantastic. It is a fantastic cause.
"Suzy has turned such a negative into a positive."
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