Wounded Warriors runner Simon Brown completes the Sayward to Campbell River leg of the Island-long journey Wednesday afternoon alongside his support rider and escorted by various emergency vehicles on his way to the Comfort Inn, where the team would stay the night before traveling down to Comox Thursday. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

‘You just don’t know when someone has a challenge’

Wounded Warriors Run BC spreads awareness of mental health, hopes to raise $100,000

The 2018 Wounded Warriors Run arrived in Campbell River on Wednesday this week, which brings along some new challenges – but also a renewed sense of enthusiasm – according to this year’s run director, Jacqueline Zweng.

“Today was incredible,” Zweng says as the team unloads the support vehicles at the Comfort Inn in downtown Campbell River after making their way down the 77 km from Sayward on Wednesday. “We had police support for pretty much the entire day, which was amazing.”

Campbell River, Zweng says, “kind of marks the transition between the beauty and tranquility of the North Island to a much busier city and urban landscape for much of the rest of the way. The team has to make a bit of a shift, but we’re prepared, and it’s a new level of excitement. There are so many more people everywhere and everyone honking their enthusiasm. It’s great.”

The Wounded Warriors Run BC covers most of the length of the Island over the course of six days raising money for treatment programs and solutions for post-traumatic stress disorder. When the event began back in 2014, the organization was hoping to raise $5,000. They ended up raising $20,000 and the event has only grown every year since.

This year they are hoping to double what they raised last year. They’ve set their fundraising goal for 2018 at $100,000.

But it’s not just about the money.

“More and more people know what we’re doing and are getting behind us. Personally, I’m such an advocate for the awareness part of it and letting people know that you just don’t know when someone has a challenge. You don’t know when you are going to have a challenge. Just because you might not be now, doesn’t mean you never will.”

Zweng says what she hopes people get out of the run, more than anything else, is the understanding that it’s okay to ask for help when something is wrong.

“That’s honestly what saved me,” she says. “I went through some pretty brutal stuff when I found out I had cancer and going through surgery and had some trauma from all of that, and because I already knew and had an awareness of mental health and that you should talk about it and ask for help, I asked for help immediately. I’m doing well now because of that.”

This is Zweng’s first year as run director for the event, and she credits the local law enforcement and emergency response members who help them out along the way with making everything run smoothly.

“A lot of times, people organizing an event put it on in one community, and we’re doing it in 20,” Zweng says. “So, logistically, there’s a lot more organization and communication required. I have to say that between police, fire and ambulance, they are such a well-oiled machine. They coordinate between each other so well and it is so easy to coordinate with them. It’s outstanding what they do for us.”

The run now heads down Island with stops in Comox, Nanaimo and Mill Bay before heading over the Malahat and down into Victoria.

You can follow the team along online or donate to the cause at woundedwarriors.ca/ways-to-give/wounded-warrior-run-bc

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