Wounded Warriors: Runners overwhelmed by support

Photos by John W.Penner, John’s Photography

Photo by John W.Penner, John’s Photography

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Motivation was all the fuel Wounded Warrior Run B.C. participants needed to reach the finish line of their gruelling 700-kilometre trek covering the length of Vancouver Island.

“I was physically drained and taxed, but all the overwhelming support we received along the way reinvigorated me and made me feel fantastic when I was running,” said PO2 Allan Kobayashi, Wounded Warrior Run B.C. co-founder and team leader.

PO2 Kobayashi, who works as an analyst for the Naval Training Development Centre, was the leader of a three-woman and four-man team who set out from Port Hardy Feb. 20 for the seven-day relay-style run to raise funds and awareness for current and former military and Emergency Service workers suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

PO2 Kobayashi, who was the only member of this year’s team to suffer from PTSD, says he’s noticed a paradigm shift in people’s attitudes and understanding of PTSD during stops in 15 communities.

“The biggest difference in this year’s run was people’s willingness to step forward and talk about their own experiences, their own traumas, and their own family members and friends who are suffering. That was the biggest motivation in pushing us forward along the route, by seeing how our interaction was making a notable difference.”

The best was yet to come as the runners were greeted with a hero’s welcome when they crossed the finish line in Langford at 3 p.m. Feb. 26. Wearing red jerseys emblazoned with the slogan “Not all Wounds are visible”, they headed into the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 91 to the sound of music and cheers from members of the Victoria Grizzlies Junior ‘A’ Hockey Team, the West Shore Rebels junior football team, friends, family, sponsors and local politicians who came out to show their support.

CPO2 Chris Fraser, a Technical Coordinator with Fleet Maintenance Facility, Cape Breton,  says he and the other runners had “a mix of emotions” when they crossed the finish line.

“We’ve done all this work and don’t want to let the momentum and awareness surrounding PTSD slide and have people forget what we are doing,” he said.

The annual run is now in its fourth year and raises funds for their parent organization Wounded Warriors Canada, a non-profit organization that assists former and current soldiers and Emergency Services workers suffering from PTSD and mental illness. PO2 Kobayashi is optimistic his group met its $40,000 target, but they are still counting the donations.

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