A 5K-a-day challenge to mark the fifth anniversary of a Castlewellan schoolgirl has raised almost £10,000 for mental health charity MYMY.
Best friends of Ellen Finnegan, who tragically lost her life on 16th January 2016 in a fire above her father’s butchers shop, wanted to honour their loving friend’s memory by setting up the challenge and to raise awareness of mental health and dealing with grief writes Laura Barr.
All donations made will go directly to MYMY (Mind your Mate & Yourself), a Newcastle-based charity which offers free counselling services to anyone bereaved or dealing with mental health issues.
Mairead McKibbin and Aimee McAleenan decided last January that they wanted to hold a special event for their sorely missed friend’s fifth anniversary.
Mairead, who lives in Bryansford, explained: “The idea for the 5k challenge came about in the last two months but we decided last year that we wanted to do something special for Ellen.
“We didn’t anticipate that we would have gathered as much interest as we have and it’s been fantastic to see so many people, of all ages, getting involved.
“Ellen was a very popular girl and a friend to everyone she met.
“Her family are also very well known in the local area and I think people are taking on the challenge to show their support to her family.”
Mairead said they wanted the challenge to be something that everyone could get involved in and it will hopefully get people up in the morning and add some structure to their day.
Ellen’s mother sadly passed away from bowel cancer three years to the day that Ellen died.
“There was a lot of media attention at the time of Ellen’s death, so I think this has definitely generated support for the 5k challenge,” Mairead added.
“The 5k-a-day will hopefully get people out moving this month.
“January is a very grim month anyway and as we are in another lockdown now there’s nothing else for people to do than to get out and exercise.
“If that’s the only thing people can do this month, then why not give yourself an incentive and sign up to the challenge?”
Mairead said that after Ellen’s death she struggled greatly and had completely neglected exercise altogether.
“I definitely found that when Ellen died I neglected exercise and that wasn’t very good for my mental health at that time.
“I was sitting in the house for longer and it was probably the worst thing for me.”
Mairead was studying at the time of her friend’s death in Liverpool and attended counselling services through her University to help deal with her friend’s tragic passing.
“The first couple of months after she died, everyone kept telling us, her friends, that we were really strong but myself as well as other close friends were very much in denial about it.
“We maybe appeared strong but were in fact ignoring the fact that it happened.
“I have a great family around me and great friends and that’s definitely helped me through it.
“I have now started my own marketing business and have come a long way from where I was five years ago.
“All of Ellen’s friends are definitely making huge strides and we know she would be really proud of us all.”
Mairead explained that people can walk, jog, run or cycle throughout the month and this can take place indoors or outdoors.
There are already over 100 people signed up and the friends are delighted with the incredible amount raised already.
Anyone who wants to sign up can contact Mairead through the gofundme page:
where donations can also be made.