Sport can mean so much more than a simple game, race, or activity. Sport can be a great source of therapy, escape, relaxation, and healing. Wounded Warriors Canada is first-hand proof of this.
WWC is a non-profit organization that supports ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members, Veterans, First Responders, and their families. They offer a wide-variety of services from family therapy, organizing PTSD service dogs, giving scholarships for family members, and many more. Like any non-profit organization, WWC relies on fundraising and donations to cover the costs of these incredible services. One of the top ways that WWC is able to fundraise is with bike rides. Since 2014, they have hosted annual Battlefield Bike Rides. With these, they have taken up to 75 riders to Europe, and they have ridden hundreds of kilometers to the sites of famous Canadian battles, such as Vimy Ridge and Juno Beach. After three successful rides in Europe, WWC is hosting the Highway of Heroes Bike Ride in Ontario this upcoming weekend. From September 24-25, 130 cyclists will bike 220 kilometers from the Afghanistan Repatriation Memorial in Trenton to the Veterans Memorial at Queen’s Park in Toronto. The participants range from first responders, members of Canadian Armed Forces, veterans, and civilians who wish to help fundraise for WWC.
Along with being an excellent source of fundraising dollars, the cycling events demonstrate the benefits of sport for mental health. “We’ve seen first hand, the outstanding positive effects that sport has for both body and mind,” said WWC executive director Scott Maxwell. “Whether it be a physical injury or a mental health injury, the ideas of setting goals for yourself, getting outside and exercising, getting into a good regime with respect to healthy eating…It’s not rocket science, but it takes that commitment. We’ve seen life changing results through sport.” Events like this also bring awareness to the mental health problems attached with traumatic experiences, which is a move in the right direction in removing social stigmas. “This is what our bike rides embody: education, awareness, and fundraising,” added Maxwell. “When you put those three things together, you’ve got a pretty good outcome. With every one of these things, we’re educating people across the country about this injury, about operational stress, suicide, and all of the effects that these kinds of injuries have on families. We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re certainly going in the right way, and these events do so much to help.”
For more information about the Wounded Warriors Highway of Heroes Bike Ride or to donate to WWC, visit www.woundedwarriors.ca/highway-of-heroes-ride/.