SOMETIMES in life you meet someone who you can always count on and you know you have a friend for life.
They inspire you, take you by the heart and push you to do something challenging.
This is what happened to Martina Tairea after learning of her husband’s good friend Paul Vasukicakau’s sudden death.
In honour of her late family friend, Ms Tairea is taking part in the City to Surf 42km marathon on August 28.
“I met Paul through my husband Lenoir, as they knew each other from high school,” Ms Tairea said.
“He was just a really awesome guy; our kids called him uncle and he always had a cheeky grin on his face.
“You just couldn’t fault him; such a family man who would do anything for his friends and family.”
On the night of October 28, 2015, however, Ms Tairea’s husband received a shock phone call.
“Paul, my husband’s friend of 20 years, had passed away suddenly,” she said.
“He was quite a fit guy. That day he had played touch rugby and then he went to his second job.
“It was there that he had a heart attack.
“We were devastated.”
Having decided last year to become fitter, a thought kept returning to her and she decided to take on the marathon in Paul’s honour and to help the family he had left behind.
“Paul left behind his devoted wife Grace and their three children – daughter Bailey (7), son Lyric (5) and youngest daughter Levani (3),” she said.
“I have set up a GoFundMe page and my goal is $1000 to help Grace with her children.
“I just want to make that goal and anything else will be a bonus.”
Ms Tairea said it was emotional when she told Grace of her proposal.
“Her response was ‘can I not cry’?” she said.
“She told me I didn’t have to do it but it’s on my heart, I need to do it.”
She said she had been training four to five times a week in preparation for the marathon.
“It’s going to be such a push of myself and I have been training really hard,” she said.
“When I’m running, I’m running in memory of him; it keeps me focused.”
Ms Tairea will wear yellow on the run as it was Paul’s favourite colour.