Ballymena woman inspiration for friend’s marathon fund raiser

Andrea who ran the Edinburgh half marathon in memory of Christopher McKee, who died of meningitis in 2011. His mother Anna is pictured, right
Andrea who ran the Edinburgh half marathon in memory of Christopher McKee, who died of meningitis in 2011. His mother Anna is pictured, right

Everyone has heard of Couch to 5K which aims to enable those more familiar with the comfort of their sofa than exercising, to start leading a healthier lifestyle through moderate exercise.

A Carrick woman was, however, so inspired by the fundraising efforts of a friend from Ballymena that she recently took the concept further - 16km further, in fact, in a bid to raise funds for Meningitis Research.

Andrea McDowell, an Underwriting Manager, decided to join Jog Carrickfergus last summer and found it a great way to meet new people, get fitter and relax.

Inspired by the fundraising efforts of her friend, Anna McKee, and to make sure others benefitted from her new healthy pastime, Andrea decided that she would enter the Edinburgh Half Marathon and raise money on behalf of the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) in Belfast.

She said: “A friend and colleague of mine suffered a terribly sad bereavement due to meningitis and I admire all the hard work she does, and substantial funds she raises to support MRF in Belfast. So, to show my support for my friend, Anna, as well as to do my own bit, I decided that Meningitis Research Foundation should be my charity of choice.

“I practised at the Larne Half Marathon, and was delighted to be able to complete that run. My real focus, though, was Edinburgh. So, on Sunday, May 28, I lined up with around 30,000 others taking part in the various events. It was so warm, well over 20 degrees, and really tough going. I must admit though, it was the thought of all the support that I had received from my friends Deborah, Tina and Jenny, as well as the support of my sponsors, that kept me going. I was also so determined to finish for my friend, Anna.

“So, although of course I didn’t quite manage to win the Half Marathon, I felt like I had really achieved something very worthwhile. Not only had I completed the full 21km, I had managed to raise £1575 for a wonderful cause. I am so proud of my friends, colleagues and relatives for being so generous. I never thought I would make my target of £500, never mind more than treble it. I would like to thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

Johnny Breen, Community Fundraiser with MRF, said: “We would like to place on record our thanks to Andrea for her fantastic effort, both in running the Half Marathon in our colours, and raising what can only be described as a fantastic sum. The money raised will go towards funding pioneering medical research, promoting symptom awareness and providing free one to one support to those affected by meningitis and septicaemia, and their families.”