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From grief to growth: a Newfoundland woman’s journey back to Ottawa Race Weekend

"This race means so much to me; I want to show our daughters that we can do hard things in the face of trauma and loss," says Jessica Foley

ottawa race weekend

On the fifth anniversary of a day that changed Jessica Foley’s life, she feels ready to take one of life’s biggest steps. On May 26, 2019, Foley’s husband, Steven Trickett, was running the half-marathon at Ottawa Race Weekend when he went into fatal cardiac arrest in the final kilometre. Foley, seven months pregnant at the time, was left to navigate an unimaginable sea of grief on her own with their two-year-old daughter.

For the past five years, Ottawa Race Weekend has been a painful reminder for Foley, who is from Newfoundland. But this Sunday, she will join thousands of others on the start line for the Ottawa Half Marathon, ready to honour her husband’s memory and take another step in her healing.

JEssica Foley Steven Trickett
Photo: courtesy of Jessica Foley

Foley, 40, has never run a half-marathon, but she stumbled on a documentary last summer about a Newfoundland athlete battling cancer and started training for an Ironman. “I was instantly inspired,” she says.

When Foley told her close friends and family that she intended to return to Ottawa the next year, they were supportive. She was put in contact with a program called Playful Mindset, which focuses on children’s mental health and addressing adverse childhood experiences in the early years. “My goal was to raise $1,000, and we now have reached $11,000,” says Foley. “Finances as a widow are tough; you lose that second income. It makes things so much more challenging. This organization offers more programs.”

She will run the half-marathon with Ottawa’s Marnie Power, a grief counsellor specializing in helping children process loss and trauma. They met last year while Foley was enrolled in Playful Mindset. The connection was immediate, and they discovered an extraordinary coincidence: Power was there with her husband during his final moments in 2019. “The universe has brought many people and connections into my life over the past five years, and Marnie is one of them,” Foley says.

JEssica Foley and Marnie Power
Jessica Foley and Marnie Power, an Ottawa-based grief counsellor specializing in helping children process loss and trauma. Photo: courtesy of Jessica Foley

Foley, who will be wearing the same bib number that her late husband wore in 2019—bib 11985—will have Power running alongside her.

Foley has gone through a battle with grief over the past five years, but through programs like Playful Mindset and meeting other widowed women, she feels confident in sharing her story. “The emotions sometimes are overwhelming, and getting my emotions out has become my outlet,” she says. “I’m ready for a good cry and craving the excitement to get there.”

Trickett is remembered by his kids and Foley as an incredible man, born to be a dad. “I always share stories of him with the kids and try to weave his influence into their upbringing however I can,” says Foley. “This race means so much to me; I want to show our daughters that we can do hard things in the face of trauma and loss.”

If you’d like to support Foley’s Ottawa Race Weekend fundraiser for Playful Mindset, you can do so here.

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