On May 23 and 24, members of the Strathcona Sunrise Rotary Club will be mountain bike riding from Courtenay to Port Alberni and back again.
This ride is a fundraiser to increase awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs (VICD) program.
Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs pairs rescue dogs with military and RCMP veterans suffering from PTSD, and trains them together to become a service dog team.
Gordon Nettleton, Russ Thompson, and David MacDonald will lead the mountain bike ride, departing from the Courtenay Railway Station at 8 a.m. on Monday, May 23. They will be accompanied by veterans who are currently in the VICD program.
Barb Ashmead, VICD president, will be speaking to the Port Alberni Rotary Club on May 24 before the group begins the return trip to the Comox Valley. The team will finish at Rider’s Pizza in Cumberland.
“People affected by PTSD benefit from teaming up with a dog for a number of reasons,” said Ashmead. “Having a canine companion reduces the severity of flashbacks, provides emotional security, and encourages reintegration back into society for those veterans who have isolated themselves.
“VICD was started in 2013, and to date, VICD has nine certified teams and 10 other teams in training. The program is offered to veterans at no cost, but VICD requires $15,000 to train each team to certification level.”
Dr. David MacDonald and his team at the Comox Valley Animal Hospital are all involved. “When Barb Ashmead gave a presentation at the Strathcona Sunrise Rotary Club breakfast several months ago, I knew it would be a good fit for me and my business, and I felt I could serve VICD in many ways,” said MacDonald.
To support the Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs program and veterans with PTSD, donations can be dropped off at Comox Valley Animal Hospital located at 3110 Comox Road, handled by Strathcona Sunrise Rotary Club members, or deposited directly at the VICD website: vicompassiondogs.ca