Taking place on the weekend of 5 September, the Run for Joel race commemorates the fifth anniversary of the events that took place on the 26 June 2015, when 38 tourists were killed in a terrorist attack in the Tunisian resort of Sousse; among them 19-year-old Joel Richards. One of this year’s ambassadors will be British middle-distance star and European medallist, Elliot Giles. Elliot offered his support to this year’s run, saying: “One of the most special things about running is the community it fosters; never more so than when it unites for such a meaningful cause. What Smile for Joel does – helping families cope with tragedies that no family should have to endure – is nothing short of exceptional. I will be running my 5k to support their game-changing work and I urge everyone to get their trainers on and run, walk or cycle so Smile for Joel can continue to help families in need.”
The event is open to all ages with participants choosing to run, walk or cycle their preferred distance of 5k or 3k. To ensure everyone’s safety regarding the ongoing pandemic, this year’s race has been modified so that people will take part from their own homes instead of en masse as it has been in previous years.
All proceeds raised will go to support the incredible work of Smile for Joel. Set up by Suzy and Owen Richards, Joel’s mother and younger brother, Smile for Joel is dedicated to helping families who are victims of traumatic bereavement. The charity gives direct support, including counselling, respite and financial assistance for those impacted by their loss. In addition, Smile for Joel works closely with the UK travel industry, ABTA and the Foreign Office to raise awareness of safety abroad. The charity also works to support Prevent; one of the four elements of the UK’s counter terrorism strategy that helps to stop people being drawn into terrorism. To date, Smile for Joel has raised over £300,000 and helped over 1,500 families.
Speaking about the importance of this event, Suzy Richards says: “Run for Joel is an amazing event that I know he would love! He was so passionate about sport and was himself a promising football referee as well as being a torchbearer for the London 2012 Olympic Games. It’s just incredible to see friends, families and communities, up and down the country, come together to honour him and all the other victims; and to know that their efforts will support other families going through tragedy, making them feel loved and less alone in their grief.”
Entry fee is £5 for adults and £2 for children, and everyone registered will receive a limited edition Runforjoel2020 wristband and running bib in the post. Once registered, participants will decide where and when they will do their activity, sharing videos and pictures of their involvement, unified by their support for the #RunforJoel campaign.