Wounded Warriors run through Parksville Qualicum Beach region
In an effort to raise awareness about PTSD, five men are gearing up to run 600 kilometres across the east coast of Vancouver Island.
The inaugural Island-wide run called the Wounded Warrior Run British Columbia will take a small team of military colleagues from Port Hardy to Victoria over five days starting Feb. 16.
Organized by Allan Kobayashi, a member of the Canadian Armed Forces who said he openly battles PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), the run is meant to focus on mental health.
"The whole point is to raise awareness about PTSD and its prevalence in first-response work," said Kobayashi. "We want to let people know help is out there."
Kobayashi said he has been planning the first-time run since last August and said despite the hard work, it has all been worth it.
"I got an e-mail the other day from a paramedic who is acquiring a PTSD dog and she made a note of seeing myself and the team and it gave her a little bit of support," he said.
That small instance of reaching out was monumental for Kobayashi, who knows just how lonely and crippling PTSD can be.
Kobayashi admits he nearly lost his family due to the debilitating mental illness, and he is thankful for the help of PTSD-related programs.
WWRBC is currently accepting monetary donations through their website at http://woundedwarriorrunbc.com.
All proceeds go directly towards PTSD programs and support groups, said Kobayashi.
So far, the campaign has raised $4,000, just shy of their $5,000 initial goal.
But Kobayashi said the run isn't about raising money as much as it is about "getting the message out there."
"There are a lot of charities out there," said Kobayashi. "I want to be a more grounded type of charity, where we focus on support through education and communication."
On Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 1 p.m. the runners will stop by the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 76 in Qualicum Beach. The event is open to everyone and the public is encouraged to come out and support participants who will be en route to Victoria.