View Royal fire chief lacing up to raise funds for Wounded Warriors

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A local first responder is stepping up to help his colleagues and military personal by running the length of Vancouver Island to raise funds and awareness around work-related mental health issues.

View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst, will join seven other runners and a support team for the ninth annual Wounded Warriors Run BC, covering over 600 kilometres in just eight days.

The goal is to raise $250,000 for programs that support veterans and first responders who are living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

2021’s Wounded Warrior run on the island was canceled due to the pandemic; so raising money is that much more imperative this year.

With several generations of family members in the military service, including his daughter, Hurst says the cause is close to his heart.

“I know the stresses that our first responders community go through,” Hurst says. “I know what our military folks have endured over the years. I saw it in my father, I saw it in my grandfather and these programs are going to help these people and give them the help they need so they can function and go about their lives.”

“They’ve given so much to this country, it’s the least I can do to give a little back to them.”

All of the money donated on Vancouver Island comes back tenfold from the rest of Canada to provide life changing programs on the island, according to Wounded Warriors BC website.

Some of those local services include a trauma resiliency program, a surviving spouse’s program and another program called COPE, or Couples Overcoming PTSD Everyday.

In his 39th year as a first responder, Hurst says it’s a difficult job.

“We are dealing with life and death situations; you’re dealing with people dying, you’re dealing with traumatic injuries,” he says.

The fire chief adds that the pandemic has only made the job tougher.

“Our police, fire and ambulance don’t have a choice, we have to come to work every day. There is no work-from-home option for us and that kind of stress adds up over the years,” says Hurst. “I think more than ever, that’s where it’s important for people to contribute to Wounded Warriors and help those that have been helping you for years and years and years.”

The run begins in Port Hardy on Sunday, Feb. 27, and will be stopping in communities along the way to meet and rally with supporters while raising money for Wounded Warriors Canada.

The run wraps up in Victoria on Sunday, March 6, at 4:30 p.m. in Market Square.

To find out more about how you can donate, visit the Wounded Warriors Run BC website.

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