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Wounded Warrior Run making tracks down Vancouver Island

Event raises awareness, funds for veterans and first responders experiencing injury and trauma

Honouring and supporting those who served means a little bit extra for Sgt. Rob Brennan.

The Comox Valley RCMP officer is also a runner for the B.C. chapter of the Wounded Warriors Run, which was scheduled to make its way through the Comox Valley this afternoon (Feb. 28).

The annual run was started by two Canadian Armed Forces members to raise awareness and money for the Wounded Warriors Canada and aims to raise awareness and funds for veterans and first responders experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder and operational stress injuries.

A relay-style run with eight participants, it began in Port Hardy Sunday and ends in March 3 in Victoria after eight days.

Brennan has served in various communities, including Prince George, Port Hardy and Haida Gwaii.

“Policing is an extremely rewarding career; however, the reality that cannot be ignored is that it comes with regular exposure to trauma, horrific scenes, and dangerous situations,” he noted.

“Over the course of my career, I have observed many members who have suffered immensely as a result of the mental toll this takes on one’s mind. I have a passion and I am driven to empower others to open up about their struggles, seek assistance, and overcome challenges.”

This year’s Wounded Warrior Run team got off to a great start in Port Hardy on Sunday at 7 a.m. after a blessing ceremony by Kwakiutl Chief Calvin Hunt.

The team then ran down Highway 19 to Port McNeill, where they were treated to “possibly the best hamburgers on the island” and some “amazing donations,” said WWR photographer John Penner in a news release.

After eating lunch, the team ran into some incredibly challenging weather as it made its way south.

“Every kind of weather,” stated Penner. “In the space of an hour we encountered bright sun, a blowing gale, a blizzard and pouring rain, but the runners didn’t falter and we arrived, 107 km later, in Woss right on time.”

Penner noted they had a wonderful supper at the Woss Community Centre and then it was “back to the hotel for the night” before heading to Sayward.”

Nathalie Butler, who has served with the Canadian Armed Forces as a dental officer for six years, ran from Sayward to Campbell River.

Chris Stanger, chief utility officer for the Town of Qualicum Beach, returns for his second year. Stanger volunteers with both Qualicum Beach Fire Rescue and the Courtenay Volunteer Fire Department.

“It’s very important to bring out the message and folks that need the help, to let them know that there’s help there,” Stanger said.

Other team members this year include head runner Steve Kowan, Jason Laidman and Daryl Baswick from the Victoria Police Department, former reservist (39 SVC BN) Yanna Hempler, founding runner Dan Bodden and various support team members.

Runners will spend Feb. 29 running 131 kilometres from the Comox Valley to the Alberni Valley with stops in Bowser, Parksville and Qualicum Beach along the way. They are scheduled to leave the Qualicum Beach Legion and run on Highway 4, around Cameron Lake and over Alberni Summit (the Hump), between 1-4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 29.

One hundred per cent of funds donated from Vancouver Island stay on the Island. According to the organization, any money donated funds life-changing programs on the Island.

The financial goal of the run is to reach $250,000; currently, their fundraising total as of Feb. 26 is $77,341.

For more information or to donate, visit

READ ALSO: 10th annual Wounded Warrior Run BC raises an estimated $150K

Black Press Media Staff

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