One of the most amazing aspects of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon is hearing the inspirational and heartfelt stories of the entrants. The stories of people who have overcome injuries and illnesses and challenged themselves to fulfill their long term goals – people who are uniting as a family and crossing the finish line together and those who are on a selfless journey to fundraise for a charity.
One of the most heartfelt stories to come out of this year’s Gold Coast Airport Marathon is the story of Team Vandalay – a close-knit group of friends travelling from all corners of the globe to honour the memory of their good friend James Leslie.
Marking the one year anniversary of James’ passing, over 40 members of Team Vandalay have committed to participating in three different races over the two-day event in a bid to raise money for Beyond Blue – a national independent, not-for-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety and related substance use disorders in Australia.
Team member and wife of James, Lauren Leslie is one of the many team members who will be participating in their first competitive running event in memory of her husband.
“It’s ideally all about running for James and to celebrate his life. It’s also to help remove the stigma attached to mental illness, depression and anxiety,” said Lauren.
“We need to make people aware of the fact mental illness is a disease and it’s certainly not a reflection of the person’s character or resilience.
“We love James and his death hasn’t changed who he is to us. He would be proud of us doing this run to raise money because his main concern was always for other people.”
Team Vandalay’s message has travelled through the engagement of Facebook as well as sending emails to friends, co-workers and families. Friends of James’ are traveling from all over the world to be part of Team Vandalay including his best friend who is traveling from Singapore to honour him.
Team coordinator Kristen Kaus is hoping Team Vandalay will raise $50,000 for Beyond Blue.
“Running isn’t only great for physical health, but is equally beneficial for mental health,” said Kristen.
“We’re running to support a charity, but the main reason we are running is to honour our friend, James Leslie.”
To support Team Vandalay, please visit http://www.everydayhero.com.au/team_vandalay
Like Team Vandalay, hundreds of companies, groups and clubs will form together to compete in this year’s Gold Coast Airport Marathon races. There has already been more than 110 teams register with many running to fundraise for a cause.
If your workplace, social organisation or fitness group would like to sign up to run for a cause or simply for the challenge, team entries are still open.
For more information go to www.goldcoastmarathon.com.au