Members of the Wounded Warriors team arrive at Parksville Legion on Friday afternoon. For more photos from the event

Members of the Wounded Warriors team arrive at Parksville Legion on Friday afternoon. For more photos from the event

Wounded Warriors run through Parksville Qualicum Beach

The group raising awareness of PTSD stopped at Legions in Bowser, Qualicum Beach and Bowser

The Wounded Warrior Run is meant to gain awareness of, and connect people with, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and they certainly gain attention as they run through Vancouver Island communities, often with a police escort.

“It’s no longer just about stepping through the fear or stigma,” run founder Allan Kobayashi told the roughly 40 people at their stop at the Qualicum Beach Legion Friday, “it’s about the feeling of acceptance at places like this, that it’s okay to be me.”

“It’s about awareness for PTSD, but it’s also about encouraging people to come out and share,” agreed fellow runner Geoff Harshaw.

He said that while there will always be some aspect of ‘just man up and take it,’ among the armed and emergency services, the run is about “getting past that stigma, that you don’t have to just tough it out, you can connect with other people and try to deal with it.”

He said in his 15 years as an army reserve and military firefighter he has seen a noticeable improvement, which really picked up a few years after people came back from Afghanistan and were visibly struggling with issues.

The pair where part of the six member team doing the 600km relay run down Vancouver Island from Port Hardy to Victoria in just seven days.

The run stopped at Legions all along the way, and while the organizers insist the focus is on the awareness, they say the generosity of the Legions and public means they ended up raising over $40,000 last year for the important cause.

To donate, or for more information, visit www.woundedwarriorrunbc.com and their Facebook page.