The 10th annual Wounded Warriors Run B.C. crossed the finish line in Victoria Sunday, raising more than $134,000 for PTSD support.
First responders and armed forces members ran the length of the Island in eight days to raise money for Wounded Warriors Canada. The national charity collects funds to support veterans and frontline workers suffering from PTSD.
It’s much-needed support, according to View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst.
“The stigma attached with mental health in emergency services and the military is still really high,” Hurst said. “No one wants to talk about it. They don’t feel comfortable, but we are trying to break down those barriers.”
On Sunday, runners made several stops across the Westshore and downtown Victoria.
Participants told CHEK News this year’s run brought some gruelling conditions, as February saw several snow storms across the Island.
“The weather was definitely trying to get under our skin and trying to get us down. We ran through snow, rain, sleet and sun,” said Nathalie Butler, a dentist at CFB Esquimalt.
READ MORE: ‘We’re not giving up on people’: Island Wounded Warriors Run faces snow and ice
She added the warm welcomes they received at every stop made every step in the snow worth it.
“Just to see people out there supporting us really reminds us why we are doing this,” Butler said.
During a stop at the Westshore RCMP Detachment, speakers focused on how the funds raised during the B.C. run go towards programs across the province and the Island.
In January, Wounded Warriors and Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs, a division of BC Guide Dogs, teamed up to donate an Operational Stress Intervention dog trained to sense anxiety in staff and comfort victims of crime during in-person interviews.
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Former runner and police officer in the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crimes Unit, Lori Timpson, told CHEK News this program has already helped so many.
“It’s just a part of a very trauma-informed approach,” she explained. “We are so grateful.”
Timpson said she has been in the field for 21 years and has seen a number of traumatic events, adding even though she hasn’t experienced PTSD herself, Wounded Warrior programs have helped coworkers over the years.
Hurst said these supports are crucial for first responders, adding that community awareness and funding are key to keeping them going.
“Having people understand that we break too. People get hurt, and we break. Somebody’s got to manage these issues,” he said. “As long as we have the resources, we can keep going, we can stay on the job and keep people safe.”
By Sunday afternoon, the run raised $134,721, with more expected to trickle in over the next few weeks.
More information on the run and the programs it funds can be found on the Wounded Warriors B.C. website.