Running down Station Avenue towards the Langford Legion was like coming home for many of the runners with the Wounded Warrior Run B.C.
The Royal Canadian Legion’s Branch 91 has been their home base for the last few months and where they’ve had many team meetings.
On Sunday the Legion was the second to last stop before runners officially crossed the finish line at the legislature in Victoria, marking the end of the week-long run from Port Hardy to Victoria that raised funds and awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“We feel like we’re home now,” event director and runner Jacqueline Zweng said to members of the Legion, the Colwood and Langford fire departments and players with the Westshore Rebels who were on hand to greet the team. “Langford is the start and the finish to what we’re doing.”
As part of the fifth annual Wounded Warrior Run B.C., which kicked off at the Jim Pattison Subaru in Colwood earlier this month, seven athletes, including current serving military members, reservists, veterans, paramedics, firefighters, police officers and civilians, relay ran the length of Vancouver Island.
Along the way, runners stopped at local legions, community centres and fire halls to meet people, share and hear stories and raise awareness of PTSD, a mental illness that can result from exposure to trauma.
Runner Matt Carlson led the team for many legs of the relay, most recently from Mill Bay and up the Malahat.
“It’s really emotional at this point. The amount of support we’ve had in the 20 plus communities we’ve been through has been fantastic. It’s so great to be home,” said Carlson, a Saanich resident who works with personnel support programs with CFB Esquimalt and knows many people suffering from PTSD.
“It’s nice that I have an opportunity to be an ambassador to them. To hear the stories of people that are affected and are looking for help, it’s nice to give them some education and awareness so that they can go and get the help that they need – that we deserve to give to them because they give so much to us.”
In addition to stopping at the Langford Legion, which donated $1,500 to the cause, the team also stopped at the Westin Bear Mountain and the new Save-on-Foods to present the newly-opened grocery store with a thank you card for donating $1,300, before crossing the finish line in Victoria.
Thus far, the event has raised more than $71,000 of its $100,000 goal. Funds raised go towards Wounded Warriors Canada, a non-profit organization that seeks to help military veterans and first responders suffering from PTSD.