Former firefighter undertakes gruelling 173km fundraising run from Belfast to Dublin
Former firefighter Brennan McCallion has completed a gruelling 173km run from Belfast to Dublin to raise funds for a cause close to his heart, charity Turning Point NI.
The County Antrim man initially set a fundraising target of £1,000 but to date has raised more than double - a fantastic £2,117 with money still coming in through his GoFundMe page.
Brennan lives in Ballymena along with wife Anna, and two children Ruby (4), and Dylan (2).
The 43-year-old Health and Safety Advisor works now for the Northern Health & Social Care Trust, but it was during his time serving as a firefighter that his own personal mental health began to suffer.
"I worked for 15 years in the emergency services in England, and witnessed a lot of trauma during that time," recalled Brennan. "As a consequence I suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after leaving the job but I was lucky enough to have the right support in place at a time I had hit rock bottom."
Knowing from personal experience the importance of having the right support available at the time a when person needs it, Brennan was motivated to raise funds for local charity Turning Point NI which has been making a meaningful impact in the town and across County Antrim.
The organisation operates as a mental health hub for those experiencing any form of mental crisis and works in partnership with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust. Aiming to reduce the prevalence of suicide and self-harming behaviours within the area, the team promotes positive mental wellbeing and resilience, while also offering support to families who have been bereaved by suicide.
"I made the decision to try and raise awareness and money for Turning Point NI as they are a local charity close to my heart. I know first hand the impact mental health can have on people, their loved ones and beyond."
The Ultra Marathon, organised by Atlas Running, was held 21 April, starting off from The Crown Bar, Belfast and finished at the gates of the Guinness factory in Dublin. According to the rules of the event the total of 173km must be completed in a 30 hour time limit, in one go.
Any participant who stops for anymore than 40 minutes is automatically disqualified.
The local man doesn't shy back from a challenge but he said his most recent charity fundraiser run was "the toughest physical challenge" he has ever faced.
"It took me 27 hours and 18 minutes to complete, but along with the support of a fellow runner, Aoife O’Donnell, I got there!
"At approximately 70 miles, in the Drogheda area, I sustained an injury. I had come so far and refused to give up. It was a welcome sight when I reached the finish line to be surprised by my wife Anna along with my sister waiting for me at the Guinness gates. The pain I was experiencing was soon replaced with a feeling of euphoria.
"Looking back, I am super proud of what I have achieved".
Brennan's GoFundMe page is still open and he is hoping to receive a few more donations for Turning Point NI.
"I hope my challenge can help provide awareness and support for Turning Point NI and help others experiencing mental crisis.
"The GoFundMe page will stay open until the weekend and then I will contact Trudi Power at Turning Point NI to make the transfer for the final total".
PLEASE CLICK HERE if you would like to support Brennan's fundraiser for this vital local charity.