Now in its third year, the Walk a Mile in his Shoes event has journeyed further than just a mile.
Started by Donna Hancock in memory of Cpl. Trevor O’Keefe, an RCMP officer who died after struggling with PTSD, the event has now grown to recognize first responders, and partner with the Canadian Mental Health Association. Now established as a non-profit group, it wants to benefit communities with programs, donations to community groups and scholarships.
Last year, the event drew 500 people in St. John’s, and 120 in Clarenville. This year there are three walks scheduled for Sept. 14. In addition to Clarenville and St. John's, there will be a walk in Gander.
At all three events registration begins at 8 a.m. and the walk starts at 9 a.m.
The starting points in each location are: Eastlink Events Centre in Clarenville, Cobbs Pond Park in Gander and the Marquee building at Quidi Vidi.
Handcock told The Packet since O’Keefe helped her in a time of her greatest needs, she’s only too proud to continue to do whatever she can for others in his honour.
The walk continues to partner with the Canadian Mental Health Association, which Hancock said is very beneficial.
“They’ve been with me since I started this,” she said.
A huge accomplishment for Hancock’s efforts is the group's new status as a registered non profit. All donations to the walk this year will be split 50-50 between the Canadian Mental Health Association and the new, incorporated group — Slainte (Good Health) Trevor O’Keefe Legacy Project.
“All money that we receive is going to help the everyday person, and that’s what Trevor was all about.”
During the walks, Eastern Health and mental health association representatives will offer information on available mental health programs.
Through all of her work for mental health, first responders and her community, Hancock never loses sight of the reason she wants to give back — a special person who changed her life but lost his own fight to mental illness.
“Trevor was an amazing person who took a broken, shattered person with no self worth and in a very dark place, and made me into the person that I am today,” she said.
“I do everything I do in his memory to help others and make a difference in someone’s life. Trevor was my person and he is proof that one person can make a difference.
“And I hope I can, too.”
Donate online at www.canadahelps.org.