Shawna Bertrand and her longtime client Chris Loran had talked about donating time and haircuts to raise money and get the word out about Wounded Warrior Canada. This year, Bertrand asked her boss at her new workplace and made the dream finally come true.
On Sunday, the barbershop O’Sullivan’s opened its doors in Langford from noon until 3 p.m. to raise money for this year’s Wounded Warrior Run. Bertrand and two other employees worked, for free, on their day off. Clients poured in, with around 15 haircuts completed at around the first hour mark, according to owner Rachel Olsen.
Olsen could be seen greeting patrons and had bought pizza and Timbits for anyone who showed up.
“A lot of our staff are married to military people, so we just figured it was our community, it’s our job,” Olsen said. “A lot of our clients are military or first responders.”
Olsen’s own husband developed PTSD while serving in the Canadian Forces, she said.
“The response has been amazing. I was nervous at first, but no, the community’s come behind us.”
All the money raised is going to the Wounded Warriors Run fundraiser, she said.
Loran is now in his third year as a runner for the charity organization. He said Bertrand came up with the idea and talked to her boss about it, who was “super supportive about it all.”
The fact that they’re donating all their time, all their haircuts is really cool,” he said.
The run is a way to get the word out that when it comes to having PTSD or a mental illness it’s important to simply talk about it, Loran said.
“Don’t keep it to yourself. If you need help, just ask for it.”
Wounded Warrior has a lot of programs right here on Vancouver Island, he notes.
“I’ve been amazed by the support we’ve received today,” Bertrand added.
The event will feature nine runners taking part in a relay from Port Hardy to the BC Legislature in Victoria. The 600-kilometre journey will take them seven days, going from Feb. 25 until March 3.
Jacqueline Zweng, a runner and the director of Wounded Warrior Run B.C., said communities have been very supportive.
The project has raised over $30,000 so far, “and we haven’t even started running yet.” She said this year’s fundraising goal is $100,000, which will be raised through the generosity of people in the community both before and during stops along the run.
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|Stephane Marcotte credits his service dog Sarge for support (SWIKAR OLI/News staff
Stephane Marcotte, a support member for the run for five years, had served 28 years in the Navy and was diagnosed with PTSD as a result. He came to get a haircut and will be helping with set-up and logistics on the run with the help of his service dog Sarge, who was provided to him by the Wounded Warriors two-and-a-half years ago.
He and his wife Susan used several support programs offered by the charity, he said. He credited Sarge and the program for giving him his life back.
“[Sarge] is always with me, my companion. He helps me with confidence. He’s changed my life in a good way, now that I can actually get out of my basement,” he said.