It takes a lot of courage for someone to open up and share their personal experience of a traumatic event that has had a long-lasting affect on them — but that's exactly what Allan Kobayaski did last week.
Kobayashi was one of six runners, many of whom served in the military or navy, who relay-ran 600 kilometres from Port Hardy to Victoria in seven days as part of the Wounded Warriors Run B.C. to raise awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder.
As part of the third-annual event, runners stop in towns and cities on Vancouver Island, connecting with people suffering from the disorder.
According to Kobayashi, co-founder of the run who also suffers from PTSD, the number of people willing to open up, talk about, and acknowledge the disorder on the Island is growing.
“This year was this monumental, spiritual journey when you can actually see people coming and sharing such powerful stories of their own struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder,” he said.
In the past, Kobayashi served in the army and did tours in Afghanistan. He currently serves with the Royal Canadian Navy.
While the journey was physically demanding, with runners travelling many kilometres a day, Kobayashi said the emotional toll and the stories he heard from people young and old suffering from the disorder was challenging to cope with.
One of the most simultaneously heartbreaking and inspiring stories he heard came on the last day of the run, when prominent community member David Saunders of Saunders Subaru shared for the first time in public that he was coping with his own traumatic event.
“It was super powerful to have someone that's so well-known amongst the community to find that self-power and internal strength to be vulnerable and talk briefly about his trauma.There wasn't a dry eye in the house,” Kobayashi said. “It spoke volumes of the whole journey this year.”
Another challenging aspect — practicing what he preaches.
Along the way, dozens of people asked Kobayashi how he deals with the disorder and ways to over come it. He had to learn to open up, be vulnerable and share his experience to help others.
“That may have been the hardest part for me. Day in and day out, allowing people in as much as I was giving out,” Kobayashi said, adding he injured himself two days before the run wrapped up.
He hopes by opening up, it will encourage others talk about the disorder as well.