Derbyshire fitness coach takes on gruelling challenge in honour of dad who took his own life

A north Derbyshire dad has raised more than £16,000 by taking on a mammoth physical challenge to help a grieving sister honour her brother’s final wish.

By Dan Hayes
Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 1:52 pm

Fitness nutrition and mindset coach Lee Freeman, aged 40, is running the distance of 10 marathons in 30 days wearing a 16kg weighted vest to raise money for his client and friend Laura McCarthy.

Laura tragically lost her brother Ross earlier this year after the 31-year-old father of one took his own life in February.

Lee had long planned to do the challenge to raise funds for Crohn’s disease, the illness which killed his mother when he was just six months old.

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Ross McCarthy and Lee Freeman.

But after hearing of Laura’s family’s story, the Creswell man decided to change his plans, taking on the challenge in aid of the Campaign Against Living Miserably – or CALM – instead.

Laura said Ross left instructions to her and her other brother Tom to continue fighting for better awareness of the often hidden and misunderstood illness.

She added that she ‘almost burst into tears’ when Lee offered to undertake the challenge for Ross and said her entire family were ‘so grateful’ for what he was doing for them.

She said: “Lee has been through a lot himself so he knew what to do. When I told him about my brother he didn’t tip-toe around me and got me to carry on with my life.

Ross McCarthy and Lee Freeman.

“In my eulogy to Ross I said that living with a mental health illness is like carrying around a weighted vest – so what Lee is doing is really fitting.

“He is putting himself through so much for us. He has sores all over his chest but we are so grateful.”

Lee began the challenge on April 1 and will run his last leg - a full 26.2 mile marathon - at Rother Valley Country Park on April 29.

He has also been going live on his Facebook page every morning to talk to his followers about why he is doing it and the importance of people talking openly about their mental health.

To find out more or donate, visit the Just Giving site set up in Ross’ memory here.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.