Despite their legs aching from each icy kilometre and lungs burning from the endurance of their cross-Island trek, Wounded Warriors BC runners kept going Wednesday.
Runner Mark Blachuras told CHEK News that the fundraiser and awareness campaign would save the lives of first responders struggling with trauma and PTSD like him.
“I’ve been a paramedic for 11 years, so lots of ups and downs in my career, and seen lots of ups and down with my co-workers,” said Blachuras, a paramedic with BC Ambulance Service.
“So this run’s super important for me, for me to be able to run for them,” he said.
“My co-workers, the ones who aren’t here anymore and the ones who are still fighting and struggling and showing up for work every day.”
On Wednesday, the team rolled into the Oyster River Fire Department, where Fire Chief Bruce Green was grateful to welcome them.
“Yeah, for me, it’s breaking the stigma that’s out there, right?” said Green.
“We all deal with the emotion and the trauma that we see with those, and for these runners to bring awareness to that, to say ‘Hey, it’s alright to talk about this.'”
The volunteer department’s men and women are often dispatched to incidents that leave them suffering from trauma, hitting even closer to home in small communities like theirs.
“Especially in the small rural communities. A lot of the people we’re responding to are people we know, and that adds another level to it,” said Green.
“Ultimately, we take that home with us every day and that starts to wear over time or just one big event, but that’s where it becomes so important for these programs and we’re trying to give people their lives back.”
A total of $75,000 had already been raised by day four of the eight-day run that started in Port Hardy and ends in Victoria. All of that money will support counselling and programs that provide service dogs to wounded warriors like Stephane Marcotte.
“If you need help, just please…reach out,” said Marcotte, a recipient of Wounded Warriors’ funded service dog after his career in the Canadian Navy.
“We’re not giving up on people to help them,” said Wounded Warriors BC’s Jacqueline Zweng.
“The reception has been amazing. The support for this is huge, and I’m just so grateful to be here,” added runner and Canadian Coast Guard member David Roche.