North Battleford is coming together again to help the wounded warriors who have served our country.
The Wounded Warriors Weekend Fundraiser brings together those who have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), whether they’re veterans or first responders, while raising money for the Wounded Warriors Weekend, which is held in Nipawin every August long weekend.
The weekend is filled with activities like fishing and hikes, as well as food and entertainment for those suffering from PTSD. According to Blake Emmons, founder and director, it’s a time for the impacted to heal together.
“They get to talk to each other and find out that they’re not alone. And they’re not crazy, they just have these challenges,” Emmons said.
He added he was inspired to create the event by reflecting on Remembrance Day.
“I had this thought and it was basically selfish, from the stand point that we do such a great job on Remembrance Day with remembering those who have paid the supreme sacrifice,” Emmons said. “I’m sitting there going ‘what about me? What about my buds that came back that are messed up, that are wounded physically but also mentally? What about us?’”
Marlene Oleshko organizes the fundraiser in North Battleford, where the proceeds go towards the weekend event in Nipawin. She saw a video for the event during its first year and decided she wanted to help.
After attending the event for the first time, she said it was an emotional but amazing experience.
“There were some of them that were comfortable sharing their stories with me on how they were prisoners and how they were tortured,” Oleshko said. “We don’t realize the half what these people have gone through for our freedom. It’s really touching, it’s really moving. The least we can do is support them now when they need our help.”
The first year in North Battleford, the event raised $30,000. Last year it brought in $45,000, and Oleshko’s goal for this year is $50,000.
The fundraiser will have food, raffles and entertainment, like Bobby Henline.
Henline is a veteran turned comedian who shares his stories around the world.
In 2007, he burned over 38 per cent of his body. His head burned to the skull after the armoured vehicle he was travelling in during a tour in Iraq blew up. He was the sole survivor out of the five people inside.
“I’m still out there. I’m still going in public. I don’t care what I look like, even though I’m disfigured. I’m still me. I’m still proud of who I am and I can still help other people by living my life to the fullest. I can show them it’s possible,” Henline said. “I found out by sharing my story and continuing to be me and chasing my dreams and not letting this stop me, that it helps other people.”
Also performing is Canadian music star George Canyon, a vocal advocate and supporter of the Canadian Forces.
Any money left over from Wounded Warriors Weekend goes towards programs like Paws for Veterans, which helps provide service dogs, and Discovering the Power in Me, which helps those suffering with PTSD to overcome it.
The fundraiser takes place Nov. 5 at the Don Ross Community Centre. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $60 each or a table of eight for $440, but wounded warriors are welcomed free of charge.
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