A local officer has made great strides against mental health stigma.
After more than 60 straight hours of walking day and night along the Okanagan Rail Trail, Sgt. Rob Farrer finished his 239 kilometre trek Tuesday afternoon at the Vernon detachment.
Dressed in red serge, Farrer was joined by S.M. Lavoie for the last 100 kilometres of the walk. The pair not only raised awareness to reduce the stigma of operational stress injuries among first responders, they succeeded in raising more than $12,000 so far towards purchasing a service dog.
“I appreciate everyone who has contributed and supported the dual purposes of raising awareness of PTSD and funds for a service dog,” said Farrer. “Unfortunately in the last week we in the police community have lost two more members to suicide. I had the privilege to have worked with one of them for several years and his loss, like so many others, has hurt a great number of people.”
Once they’d neared the end of the rail trail, Farrer and Lavoie were joined by a group of other RCMP members to escort them back to the detachment along Kal Lake Road.
For Farrer, the gruelling experience of the walk was parallel to the experience of living with PTSD – an analogy that was made complete by the help and support he received along the way in the form of food, coffee, and Lavoie’s company.
“If I tried to do this myself, my chances of success would have been very, very low,” said Farrer, 100 metres away from the finish.
Lavoie only joined for the final 100 kilometres of the walk, but he was with Farrer from the beginning. The two had formulated the idea together and had planned to walk as a pair the entire way. Lavoie was then deployed operationally and therefore couldn’t join him for the first leg, but he
“There was no way I was letting him finish alone,” Lavoie said in what sounded like another analogy to the world of PTSD – a world in which “no person gets left behind” is the mentality the walk was designed to foster.
To donate to the cause, visit the GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/f/osi-service-dog-courageous-companion.
– With files from Brendan Shykora