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Wounded Warriors run raises awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder

Allan Kobayashi, co-founder of the Wounded Warrior B.C. Run, left, is greeted by Rosie Sarkany and Chris Morrison of the Alberni Valley Lions Club at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 256 Wednesday. The inaugural run raised awareness about stress disorders. - CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin
Allan Kobayashi, co-founder of the Wounded Warrior B.C. Run, left, is greeted by Rosie Sarkany and Chris Morrison of the Alberni Valley Lions Club at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 256 Wednesday. The inaugural run raised awareness about stress disorders.
— image credit: CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

The inaugural relay run to raise money for treatment and awareness about post traumatic stress disorder and other mental disorders passed through Nanaimo Wednesday.

The 600-kilometre Wounded Warrior Run B.C. started in Port Hardy Feb. 16 and ended in Esquimalt Friday.

Runners were greeted by Royal Canadian Legion members, supporters and family at Branch 257 in Lantzville and Branch 256 on East Wellington Road where the six-man team explained the significance of their undertaking.

“It’s been a completely invigorating and humbling experience,” said Dan Bodden, run co-founder.

Bodden said the team was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support along the way, especially from some of the smaller communities like Port Hardy, Port McNeill and Sayward where legion branches, emergency responders and citizens gave dinners, receptions and donations.

Money raised supports Wounded Warriors Canada, a non-profit organization formed to help Canadian Forces members wounded during their service. The organization’s current primary focus is on mental health, effects of stress and operational stress injuries suffered by military personal and emergency responders.

“It’s a conversation, both in the military and among [emergency health services] workers, that’s long overdue and if it’s overdue there, then maybe it’s overdue in society in general with these stigmas we attach to mental health,” Bodden said.

Bodden is a search and rescue technician, but does not suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, unlike some of his friends and fellow runners, some of whom have done several tours of peacekeeping and combat duty.

Bodden said the culture and attitudes toward the stress disorder is changing. Previously, military personnel might have risked careers at mentioning they felt something was wrong.

“Cultural change has to happen through generations,” Bodden said. “Look at so many social issues that have changed during our lifetime. They don’t change overnight and this is no different.”

Bodden came up with the idea for the run with his neighbour Allan Kobayashi, who is continuing his military career while receiving treatment for the effects of several tours of duty in Kosovo, Afghanistan and other regions. His current duties include training other military personnel how to operate in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear environments.

Each team member runs about two hours per day before being swapped out by a teammate in the relay style event.

Talking through traumatic experiences is part of moving forward.

“In addition to raising funds for Wounded Warrior, we wanted to get the word out,” Bodden said. “If you’re struggling the first step you might want to take is to talk to somebody. When you’re ready to take that first step, please do and talk to somebody and when somebody’s trying to talk to you about their demons and things that they’re dealing with, maybe listen to them and let them talk.”

To learn more about the team of runners and the event, please visit http://woundedwarriorrunbc.com.

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