Chris Stanger is one of the new members of this year’s Wounded Warriors team.
He works as Chief Utility Operator for the Town of Qualicum Beach, is one of the volunteer firefighters of the Qualicum Beach Fire Department, and also the Courtenay Volunteer Fire Department, where he lives.
And so far for Stanger, the experience has already been a memorable one. He said that the memories keep growing at every town and community that they visit along the way.
“The highlight for me so far is being part of the team and the amazing people that I am with,” Stanger said. “The second is the journey in general, stopping at all these different locations and seeing all the small communities gathering together and wanting to help. That’s really been special for me. The other part is the running. Although the weather has been tough but we gather around each day and we keep going. It’s been fantastic.”
This is the 10th year anniversary of the Wounded Warrior BC run that started in Port Hardy on Feb. 26 and will make its way to Victoria on March 5, spreading awareness about mental health support and also raising valuable funds.
“It’s very important to bring out the message and folks that need the help, to let them know that there’s help there,” said Stanger, who was inspired to join Wounded Warriors after seeing and meeting the runners last year.
Dave Roche, a runner from Victoria who works for the Canadian Coast Guard, related his experience dealing with his mental health issues for 10 years. He said he went through deep depression, suffered anxiety, severe alcoholism and substance abuse issues.
“It consumed my life for so long,” said Roche. “I was one of the people that sort of … I was going to work, paying my bills so I thought everything was fine. I didn’t realize how bad my problem had got. My life had no meaning, no purpose, no real direction. That’s just what I thought life was. I was lucky enough, grateful and fortunate enough to get the help that I needed. It’s been a slow journey to get where I am and I am still working on my recovery.”
Roche said his main reason for being part of Wounded Warriors is to tell everyone from a first-hand vantage point, “if you’re courageous enough, strong enough, brave enough to recognize that you need help, that is absolutely OK.”
The Wounded Warriors were welcomed and presented with many donations at the Bowser Royal Canadian Legion Branch, Qualicum Beach Royal Canadian Legion Branch 76, and Parksville Royal Canadian Legion Branch 49.
While at the Parksville Legion on Friday morning (March 3), run coordinator Jacqueline Zweng announced that they’ve reach the half way mark of their fundraising target of $250,000. She thanked all the communities that have generously contributed to the cause.
The run continued on to the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 257 and Branch 10 in Lantzville before heading to Nanaimo legion on East Wellington Road.