Having completed his fourth annual trek from Port Hardy to Langford as part of Wounded Warrior Run B.C., Allan Kobayashi said his feelings could be summed up in one word: gratitude.
As fellow runners and support team members for the group received well wishes from family and friends Sunday outside the Royal Canadian Legion in Langford, Kobayashi – he had plenty of his own family and support group around him – reflected on the past week of running through Island communities and connecting with people.
“The very first day, the morning that we left, I said to everybody, ‘think of a feeling that you have right now. One word. And I guarantee you by the end of the seven-day journey, it’s going to morph … it’s going to turn into something completely different,’” he recalled.
“Right now the only word I can really honestly come forward with myself is gratitude: gratitude for support, gratitude for community and just gratitude for the actual greater good of mankind coming forward again.”
While the run itself had its challenges, including snowy weather at times and rather slippery conditions on the Malahat on the final day, the biggest challenge moving forward, Kobayashi said, will be to keep the conversation going about the subject of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“That’s the hard part, right? It’s one thing talking about your own stuff. It’s one thing to talk about what I’ve done, or what the team has gone through. But it’s keeping that conversation going that is the tricky part. When we leave or when the event leaves, it’s making sure that conversation doesn’t stop … It’s the talking that actually gets people the help that they need … picking up that thousand-pound phone and talking, or going through that door that’s riddled with fear to get to that other person that’s willing to listen. It’s all about the conversation.”
Channing Knull, the emergency services liaison for Wounded Warrior Run B.C. on the Island, drove home the importance of keeping conversations going and supporting those who may be suffering in silence with PTSD.
“We lost another member last week to taking that ultimate decision into his own hands,” he told the hushed crowd. “We grieve together with his wife and family. But this is why we do this, and I’m hoping that some day we will solve this so that we can all meet and have lighter times and enjoy each other’s support and love and companionship together.”
Like Kobayashi, Knull also suffers from PTSD and credited Wounded Warrior Canada, the Legion and Veterans Affairs for helping bring him out of a “very dark space.”
He noted that anyone can help when a PTSD sufferer reaches out for that first time.
“You might be that person that they come upon and they share that with you. You will be in a privileged position,” he said. “I just implore you to listen and be non-judgmental and be that listening ear of guidance for them.”
During the ceremonies, two separate donations of $1,000 were passed along to Kobayashi and Wounded Warrior Run B.C. One came from the City of Langford, courtesy Coun. Roger Wade, while the other was presented by president Norm Scott of the Royal Canadian Legion Prince Edward Branch 91.
In total the group stopped at 16 different Legions on Vancouver Island, including three in Greater Victoria.
At the end, the Langford branch welcomed everyone in for a burger lunch, with all proceeds going toward the cause. The Sooke School District’s Soul62 rhythm and blues band also performed as part of the celebrations.
As for Kobayashi, for all the public awareness and reaching out that this high-profile run promotes, he was glad to be home, where he’ll keep working to spread the word about the Wounded Warrior organization.
“They say that everything starts from home, and to see my own family here supporting me speaks volumes for my ability to do the same for others,” he said.
For more information about the organization, to find links to related support groups, or to donate, visit woundedwarriorrunbc.com.