View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst is taking on the challenge of the Wounded Warriors Canada Run to help erase the stigma military personnel and first responders face dealing with mental health issues. (Photo courtesy of Paul Hurst)

View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst is taking on the challenge of the Wounded Warriors Canada Run to help erase the stigma military personnel and first responders face dealing with mental health issues. (Photo courtesy of Paul Hurst)

View Royal fire chief gears up for Wounded Warrior Run

February run from Port Hardy to Victoria offers support to members of military and first responders

“I’m hurt. I need help.”

There’s a stigma attached to those five words that make it difficult for members of the military and emergency services personnel to seek assistance, explained View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst.

Erasing the stigma involved in reaching out for mental health support and services and making it easier to seek the help they need is the motivation behind Hurst’s decision to take part in this year’s Wounded Warrior Run BC, which raises funds and awareness for Wounded Warriors Canada.

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“There are three generations of the military in our family and my daughter Megan is currently at Royal Military College,” noted Hurst, a member of View Royal Fire Rescue for the past 36 years.

“There’s been nothing in place for so many years, so I want to make sure my daughter and my colleagues in emergency services and their families have support when they need it. Wounded Warriors is one avenue to raise awareness, but there’s still lots of work to be done to get people comfortable with seeking help.”

Hurst first volunteered two years ago for the run, which involves eight runners doing 15 to 20 kilometres a day between Port Hardy and Victoria, a distance of roughly 600 kilometres.

“I got the good news that I’d been accepted in September and started training,” Hurst said. “My mind is 20 years old but my body isn’t,” he added with a chuckle.

“It’s going to be a challenge and it’s taking some time, but I’ve been training hard to condition my body for repetitive days and distances. I’m confident I’ll be ready to go on opening day.”

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Wounded Warrior Run BC takes place from Sunday, Feb. 21 to Sunday, Feb.28, with an opening one-day event that consists of a run from Sidney to Sooke scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 7.

Significant consideration has been given to the implementation of COVID-19 safety protocols to protect team members and the communities they travel through.

All government regulations will be adhered to, and the safety plan created by frontline workers within the team and safety representatives is prepared to adapt to any changes provincially or locally that may be implemented during the run.

“The team and seven support staff have gone to great lengths to prepare,” Hurst said. “There’s an incredible group of people involved in the organization.”

All of the funds donated from Vancouver Island will go toward supporting members of the military, first responders and their families on Vancouver Island.

To donate to Wounded Warrior Run BC, sponsor a specific rider or a section of the run, visit woundedwarriors.ca/events/wounded-warrior-bc-run/.

“Every dollar raised helps those who have dedicated their lives to helping others,” Hurst added.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

View Royal Fire RescueWounded Warrior Canada