Loud cheers and applause echoed throughout the streets of downtown Charlottetown Sunday morning as participants in the annual Prince Edward Island Marathon crossed the finish line.
For the first time in its 14-year history, the marathon is in support of P.E.I. mental health, and for one corporate team, the issue of mental health hits close to home.
In May, 21-year-old Jason Driscoll took his life at his family home in Charlottetown.
Originally from the Stratford area, Driscoll’s father, Joe, is a member of the Cross Roads Fire Department.
Kevin Reynolds, a member of the department, said this is the second year the force has entered a corporate team, and since this year’s marathon is supporting mental health, they decided to run for Jason.
“We’re all a big family, so we wanted to do this,” Reynold’s said of the department, adding mental health is something that gets talked about a lot in the fire service. “For one of our brothers to lose their own child to this, it’s a pretty emotional thing for all of us.”
The exact nature of Driscoll’s illness is unknown, but Reynold’s said it came as a shock to those who knew him.
“He was a good kid who had everything going for him, no signs of any issues. He just took his life out of the blue. It’s sad,” he said.
“We just wanted to do this in Jason’s memory as a good way to honour a good kid and to raise awareness for how serious this disease really is.”
Other runners among the thousands of participants were Clayton and Louise Coughlin of Fortune Cove.
About fifteen years ago, Louise was inspired by the several marathons her husband ran, and decided to also take up the sport.
“I was 50 (years old) when I started and we’ve been running together ever since,” Louise said, adding she is now 66 years old and her husband is 68 years old.
The couple completed the half marathon and were smiling as they crossed the finish line, hand in hand.
“I feel tired, but I have the runner’s high,” Louise said. “I feel great, actually.”
On their 40th wedding anniversary, the Coughlins ran a full marathon, and their goal in four years from now, is to celebrate their 50th anniversary by running another full marathon.
“We just run for the joy of running,” Louise said.