First i Run and Rock event a runaway rocking success!


It was a cool, wet Saturday, but nothing could put a damper on the fun as United by Trauma held its first annual i Run and Rock in Thunder Bay on September 17.


Chair Mike Lundy and United by Trauma cofounder Nicole Taylor hold a future friend for someone with PTSD

The day-long fundraiser included a five- or 10-kilometre run (or a five-kilometre “fun walk”) around Boulevard Lake, followed by feasting, courtesy of vendors and beer gardens. For this first event, two area bands – Mocking Modesty and Visions of Doyle – were on hand to entertain, as was Canadian music legend David Wilcox.

i Run and Rock was created to raise awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in first responders and other workers and members of the community. The event also raised funds for PTSD resources, most notably, service dogs for first responders living with PTSD.


From l to r: EBM Ed Arvelin, Councillor Andrew Foulds, Charlie Angus, Region 7 VP Carl Thibodeau, Mayor Keith Hobbs

The organizing committee for the event consisted of members from OPSEU’s Corrections and Mental Health divisions. Chaired by OPSEU Local 737 President Mike Lundy, the committee included members from the Thunder Bay Police Service, the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service, Thunder Bay paramedics with the Superior North Emergency Medical Service, and nurses from Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

We were joined by a host of volunteers from many different areas, including OPSEU’s Corrections and Mental Health divisions, the Indigenous Circle, the Retirees Division, and all three Region 7 Executive Board Members, Carl Thibodeau, Glen Archer, and Ed Arvelin. Nicole Taylor, one of the cofounders of United by Trauma, made the 1,300-kilometre trip from Barrie with two PTSD service dogs.


Organizing committee members Ken Dowhaniuk, Laurie Koval, and Sarah Jarrard

Despite the unkind weather, there was a large and boisterous turnout. Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs, Councillor Andrew Foulds, and federal NDP interim caucus leader Charlie Angus were in attendance, and all three proudly donned OPSEU’s “We Own It” shirts. Also proudly on display were anti-privatization of Hydro One signs, which generated (no pun intended) plenty of discussion.

i Run and Rock garnered extensive media coverage, with Rock 94, Acadia Broadcasting, and the Chronicle Journal on the scene and Chair Mike Lundy conducting a number of interviews.

The day was infused with a joyful soul of carefree fun, and participants and spectators thoroughly enjoyed themselves. And while i Run and Rock was entertaining, it was also successful in raising awareness about a very serious subject – and in raising funds to help PTSD survivors get a loyal companion.

“i Run and Rock embodies the concern for the well-being of others that is the very cornerstone of our union,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “I’ve personally been deeply involved in the drive to get legislative protection for first responders with PTSD, and we saw Bill 163 passed last April.


Bracelets sold to raise funds for research and awareness about PTSD

“But all workers need to be covered by PTSD legislation, because no one is immune from this debilitating and sometimes devastating illness. We have to raise more awareness of PTSD, and events like i Run and Rock are just the way to do it.

“I want to congratulate and thank Mike and Nicole, the organizing committee, participants, and everyone who came out. I know it takes long hours and hard work to make an event like this happen. I’m delighted to see how successful it was and look forward to next year’s i Run and Rock.”

Visit OPSEU's Take Action on PTSD index page