Runners and crew from the Wounded Warriors Run BC stand with Royal Canadian Legion Branch 171 President Gary Phillips and Past President Roy Empey after the run arrived in Ladysmith.

Runners and crew from the Wounded Warriors Run BC stand with Royal Canadian Legion Branch 171 President Gary Phillips and Past President Roy Empey after the run arrived in Ladysmith.

Wounded Warrior Run comes to Ladysmith

The second annual Wounded Warrior Run BC concluded Feb. 20 in Victoria

The second annual Wounded Warrior Run BC concluded Feb. 20 in Victoria after raising more than $30,000 to support Canadian veterans suffering from PTSD and other mental health issues.

Before reaching Mile Zero in Victoria, the six runners and six crew members ran through Ladysmith and Chemainus Feb. 19, stopping at the Royal Canadian Legion in each town and receiving a donation.

The Wounded Warrior Run BC (WWRBC) was created last year to provide increased financial support and public awareness for Wounded Warriors Canada.

A team of dedicated runners relay-ran the length of Vancouver Island for six consecutive days, starting Feb. 15 in Port Hardy and finishing Feb. 20 in Victoria, covering more than 600 kilometres.

This year’s runners were Steve Deschamps, Channing Knull, Lorne Guthro, Mary McGregor, Rob Lamothe and Sebastien Arsenault.

Wounded Warriors Canada is a non-profit organization that helps Canadian Forces members who have been wounded or injured in their service to Canada. They help find therapeutic programs and solutions for military men and women in need.

Currently, their primary focus is on mental health and, particularly, the staggering impact of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Operational Stress Injuries. Wounded Warriors Canada helps Canadian veterans by providing programs such as Couples Overcoming PTSD Everywhere (COPE), The Big Battlefield Ride and The CanPraxis Equine Program.

PTSD is defined by The Mayo Clinic as “a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it.”

Through understanding and treatment, Wounded Warriors Canada strives to change the stigma attached to PTSD and mental health in general.

When the WWRBC stopped at the Ladysmith Legion on Feb. 19, they had raised more than $17,000 along the route, and with the online donations, run director Ron Mierau thought they had surpassed $20,000.

“Our main reason for the run is to bring awareness for PTSD,” Mierau said after the runners and crew were greeted by Legion members and members of the RCMP and Ladysmith Fire/Rescue. “It’s to reach out to a lot of the people who have given a lot to their country and come home. PTSD touches many of my friends who are suffering, and I’ve seen them get healthy through programs we have in the military, at legions and through Wounded Warriors Canada.”

The run also raises money for Wounded Warriors Canada and its programs to support veterans and their families.

“It started with two guys having a beer, and they both are huge sufferers of PTSD, and they said ‘we have to do something,’” said Mierau, who is also the Vancouver Island co-ordinator for Wounded Warriors Canada. “Last year was a great run. It was thrown together but not really organized; it just sort of came together. This year, we’re trying to guide it.

“This year has been an amazing experience. We’re meeting amazing people.”

The WWRBC traverses Vancouver Island each year, but Mierau believes that as it gets bigger, there will probably be a B.C. run in a couple of years.

“We have a huge interest,” he said.

As the Nanaimo-to-Ladysmith leg wrapped up, Mierau wanted to thank the firefighters and police officers who came out, all the way from Nanaimo to Ladysmith.

“They really gave a real support to us,” he said.

For more information about the run or to make a donation, visit http://woundedwarriorrunbc.com.