Six days, six runners and more than 600 kilometres.
Up and down the hills and valleys of Vancouver Island, battling wind, rain and possibly even snow, six individuals will run relay-style from Port Hardy to Victoria from Feb. 15 to 20 to raise funds and awareness for Wounded Warriors Run B.C.
The cause – WWRBC supports retired and serving Canadian Armed Forces members affected by post-traumatic stress disorder – mirrors the issues around mental illness and needs to be brought more into the public eye, says Dave Saunders. His family’s Subaru dealership in Colwood will host the official relay launch on Jan. 30 and the event finale Feb. 20.
“A lot of our emergency personnel are silent about it and they shouldn’t be,” he said.
“PTSD shouldn’t be something to hide. It should be shared so as a community we can help them. They protect our community above and beyond what they are paid for. So this is the very least we can do to pay these individuals back.”
Saunders Subaru is helping spearhead promotion of the Island run to help raise as much money and awareness of PTSD as possible for the cause, Saunders said.
“This (run) is difficult in the summer, let alone the winter.
“I congratulate those guys; they are willing to do it under any circumstances and my hat goes off to them.”
Steve Deschamps, Channing Knull, Lorne Guthro, Mary McGregor, Sebastien Arsenault and Rob Lamothe have accepted the challenge of running through the Island’s challenging terrain. They’ll stop at many Royal Canadian Legion branches along the way, spreading the word and raising funds for the cause.
Lamothe said all of the runners and volunteers have a singular focus.
“This is something near and dear to me. I have been deployed multiple times and I’m very concerned about PTSD and mental illness,” he said.
“It is not a physical injury you can see, but wounds that are not as visible are still important to deal with.”
With last year’s inaugural run raising approximately $25,000, Lamothe said the hope is to shatter that record the second time out.
“It’s a gruelling task, but it’s less about the run and more about the cause … It’s not just a military issue, it is really a mainstream Canadian society issue. The stats are that one in 10 (people are) affected by mental illness. Short or long term, we should not turn a blind eye,” he said.
Whether those affected are or have been in uniform or not, he added, “you try to make a difference in that individual’s life.”
The media launch at Saunders Subaru, 1784 Island Hwy., happens at 11 a.m. Jan. 30.
The finale takes place at 5 p.m. on Feb. 20.
For more information visit woundedwarriorrunbc.ca.