When Jessica Caldwell runs the Wellington Around the Bay half marathon this month, she will be thinking of her father, the late Keith Caldwell - a well known Stratford man.
Keith died after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke. In honour of his memory, Jessica is using the marathon as a way to fundraise for the Stroke Foundation.
"To grapple with the grief I decided to do something to help myself and others by running a half marathon and raising money for the Stroke Foundation. Strokes are devastating and I want to do my bit to help."
Jessica says when her father died last year, the family were overwhelmed by the support they received from the Stratford community.
"His death was devastating. It was heartwarming when we saw all the support of the Stratford community, we received lots of cards," Jessica says.
Keith was born in Stratford, and taught at Stratford High from 1964 to 2017. He has the longest service record at Stratford High School and in some cases taught three generations of the same family in his time there.
Keith was known to many as Pinky, a nickname Jessica says stuck through the years.
"There are three stories as to why he was called Pinky. The first is that when he was sunburnt, he went pink, the second is that when he got mad he went pink and the third is that he turned pink when exercising."
Keith attended Otago University and studied physical education. During his study, Keith was awarded five university blues, a sporting award. Keith was a very modest man, Jessica says.
"He never tooted his own horn, we only found out about his university blues after he had passed."
Keith was very involved with Taranaki secondary school sports. When he was semi-retired, he travelled to Palmerston North to watch a first XV rugby team from Stratford High play.
"He impacted lots of lives as he taught for many years. If you went to Stratford High you would most likely have a memory with him. He was really fit with a strong heart," Jessica says.
Jessica describes Keith as a great dad to her and her sister, Rebecca, as well as being an awesome Pop to his grandchildren.
"My best memories are of spending time with him. One day he took us up to Mount Taranaki for a walk and he charged ahead while my sister and I lagged behind, puffing."
It is all these memories Jessica will be carrying with her as she runs the half marathon on Sunday, February 17.
■ Jessica's fundraising page: www.givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/running-against-strokes