What a difference one year can make.
This statement is true for many of the stories shared at the Wounded Warrior Run BC kick-off event and media launch Thursday. One Greater Victoria couple, Luc and Sherry Beauvais, wouldn’t have thought they would be where they are today one year ago.
Luc was a police officer for 25 years, serving with police detachments in Ottawa, Victoria and Central Saanich.
Shortly before the Wounded Warrior Run last year Luc was diagnosed with PTSD. The Beauvais’ close friend of 10 years, Chris Loran, was asked to run because the team was short a runner and Loran, an avid runner, agreed to run in Luc’s name.
Sherry and Luc attended the closing ceremonies of the run in Victoria and when they heard two of last year’s runners Allan Kobayashi and Channing Knull speak, something resonated with them regarding Luc’s PTSD, Sherry said.
“It was the first time someone spoke who had experienced what we were going through and it made sense all of a sudden,” she said.
Last February, the Beauvais’ made a phone call to Couples Overcoming PTSD Everyday (COPE) and trauma resiliency program, two of the organizations Wounded Warriors Canada (WWC) provides assistance to, and put themselves on the waiting list.
When the Beauvais started the program they were COPE 17 and the 85th couple in the second year of the program’s existence.
Sherry said they had no expectations of the program and were put into a group with four other couples, all suffering from PTSD. Despite the uncertainty, they found strength in the bonds they made with their peers and found the psychologist and therapist sessions extremely helpful and important.
It was very strange to share pain with people and find strength in that, she said. They created strong connections with people that were going through the same thing by sharing personal stories and feelings and re-learning how to communicate together.
“How to communicate again, how put the fear and anger aside and connect out of love again as a couple,” Sherry said. “How to talk and really listen, valuable thing you lose touch with when something like PTSD gets in the way.”
After Luc and Sherry gave a very moving speech at the kick-off, they stepped away from the podium and gave Loran a big hug as they passed him in the crowd.
Loran will be running again this year and emphasizes that while traditionally PTSD is thought of for those who have served as military, first responders and their families, it can affect anybody.
When Loran’s son was 15 months old he was diagnosed with a bleeding disorder and had a bone marrow transplant. Loran runs for Luc, but he also likes to run for families who have experienced traumatic diseases.
“I also run for the families that have children who have died from cancer,” he said. “My son is five and has had five or six friends pass away with cancer already.”
Loran looks forward to the run this month and connecting with people from communities they will be passing through on their week-long run down the Island, continuing the conversation and letting people know it’s okay to talk about mental health.
WWC provides assistance to three organizations directly on the Island. COPE, which is located in Langford, TRP, which is for first responders and is located in Sooke, and the PTSD service dog program in Parksville.