Dylan Pace is the organizer of Walk for the Wounded. He and three friends will walk 168 km from Garrison Petawawa to Parliament Hill on Aug. 8 to fundraise for Wounded Warriors Canada. (Submitted photo)
‘Walk for the Wounded’ Aug. 8 will raise funds for Wounded Warriors
By Patricia Leboeuf
Posted on Thursday July 23rd, 2020
A team of Canadian Armed Forces members and veterans will walk from the gates of Garrison Petawawa to Parliament Hill to raise money for Wounded Warriors Canada.
Walk for the Wounded is the brainchild of Dylan Pace, who saw the need to support his physically and mentally ill brothers and sisters in arms.
He and three friends will leave Petawawa on Aug. 8 and walk 168 km while wearing weighted vests, stopping every hour to do 22 push-ups.
Pace estimates that it will take 36 gruelling hours to complete.
Though an impressive feat, Pace doesn’t want any accolades for this veteran-organized fundraiser.
“It isn’t about us. It is about the individuals that need help,” he said.
He has wanted to do something to help Wounded Warriors for a long time. As he is about to release from the military, he decided to seize the opportunity. He hopes the walk not only shines the spotlight on the charity’s efforts, but also raises $22,000.
“I wanted to do something ... to grab people’s attention as that’s the most efficient way to get the awareness out there,” said Pace.
But it still had to be obtainable, so he settled on this very, very long walk.
“It will give us time to think about why we are doing it, what other people are going through,” said Pace. “We are going to suffer for 36 hours, but people who have operational stress injuries (OSI) their suffering doesn’t end.”
Pace added hourly push-ups to the journey to mark the roughly 22 American soldiers and veterans that have died by suicide every hour from 1999 to 2010. The numbers may not be as high in Canada, but mental illness is still widespread, with 20 per cent of soldiers being diagnosed with one or more throughout their lifetime.
“It is a very sad reality,” said Pace. “It is almost like every year or two, a unit loses a member to suicide. Especially in the veteran community, in the last 40 years of service, we have all known somebody who has committed suicide.”
Wounded Warriors Canada honours and supports Canada’s ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members, Veterans, First Responders and their families with the hope of alleviating suffering, and allowing them to live full, happy lives.
“One of their mottos or captions, is #weareinthistogether,” said Pace. “And that is a very good message.”
Because there is help out there for those suffering, he noted, whether through programs like the Canadian Forces Member Assistance Program (CFMAP) or an organization like Wounded Warrior.
If the walk makes just one other soldier or veteran feel as though they have support, then Pace will consider the fundraiser a success.
Regardless of the result, it will be an exhausting 36 hours, both mentally and physically.
Even though Pace enjoys, in his words, some “pretty absurd training methods,” it is still a long trek in the hot August sun while contemplating the suffering of his peers.
Not everyone can complete that in one continuous go, but he and his team are used to hard, seemingly never-ending, walks. Still, they are keeping up their training regimen and currently focusing on hardening their feet to avoid any last-minute blisters.
This fundraising walk is not affiliated with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), and the participants and support team members are volunteers.
“We are using (Garrison) Petawawa as a starting point, but it is not associated with the base,” said Pace. “It’s a good place to start.”
The walk is still several weeks out, but there has been a massive flood of support. And many people have offered to join up or to set up waystations along the way.
Though Pace would love to accept more people on the walk, he is trying to keep the participants and direct supports to under 10 to remain compliant with COVID-19 regulations. That doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been bowled over by the offers.
“It’s humbling, to say the least,” said Pace. “It really reaffirms our ‘why’ of why we are doing this. It is that bond (between soldiers). Even if you didn’t serve in the same era, that connection and support is out there. It speaks volumes to the community and speaks volumes to those that are suffering.”