Haunted Forest raises $3,000 for Wounded Warriors

·3 min read

Money raised by the Haunted Forest will support veterans and first responders living with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Haunted Forest raised $3,000 through its annual charity haunted house.

Haunted Forest co-creator Cora-Lee Cobb said they connected with Wounded Warriors through her husband and co-founder of the charity haunted house Tryus Cobb, who is also a firefighter-paramedic at CFB Shilo.

“Wounded Warriors is near and dear to him because they deal with PTSD in first responders, all the front-line workers,” Cobb said. “They don’t just help out the workers. They help out their families and their children with everything from counselling to a chat session.”

The 2021 spooky season marked the first time the Haunted Forest sponsored Wounded Warriors as its chosen charity, Cobb said. She was pleased they could raise $3,000 for the charity with the help of approximately 1,500 visitors and 30 volunteers.

Cobb said they were proud to hit their fundraising goal and appreciates the donation will help Wounded Warriors support first responders living with PTSD.

Cobb said excitement is already building for next year’s Haunted Forest, and they are hoping to raise even more for the charity.

Kara Kallenbach, a Wounded Warriors Canada Manitoba ambassador, was on hand to accept the donation from the Haunted Forest.

She praised the event and the passion volunteers showed in creating a spooky experience for visitors.

“It’s so exciting that people think about us, and that people will actually know in the public that this is going on,” Kallenbach said. “Mental health is an issue for all of us.”

The $3,000 raised by the Haunted Forest will be used to promote educational programs and services offered by Wounded Warriors. Kallenbach said they are always seeing programs added at the non-profit.

Each year Wounded Warriors provides 333,000 hours of clinical treatment, 100 PTSD service dogs, helps 1,200 veterans, first responders and family members, and has invested $30 million in programming to date.

Wounded Warriors strives to continue expanding program availability for veterans and first responders and increase awareness.

Kallenbach became a social worker after retiring from the Canadian Air Force. She was injured in the military and lives with PTSD.

Wounded Warriors is a non-profit support organization for any public servant experiencing physical or mental difficulties resulting from their service. In Canada, the organization was launched after the death of five soldiers in Afghanistan.

Any veteran, including military, police, firefighters, paramedics, can access programs created by the non-profit.

Talking about mental health is still taboo for some people, Kallenbach said.

For several decades survivors were unable to share their experiences or seek help for their PTSD.

Wounded Warriors raises funds for a variety of programs centred around healing from PTSD, including equine therapy, trauma resiliency, couples counselling, therapy dogs and peer support.

The common thread of programming and events is education about PTSD, Kallenbach said.

“I wanted to educate the world that this is an issue,” she said. “We have each other’s back always; we can help support each other when it’s a mental health issue.”

A part of the education is sharing stories about injuries and the path of healing as peers. Kallenbach said peer-to-peer guidance is essential because it can provide insight on how to begin healing from PTSD.

She is no stranger to fundraising for Wounded Warriors. Kallenbach participated in the “Battlefield Bike Ride” in Italy four times. During the event, cyclists visit battlefields from the Second World War and veteran cemeteries. The trip involved 112 bicyclists, each helping raise funds and awareness for PTSD and Wounded Warriors.

The COVID-19 pandemic has driven home the experience of PTSD, Kallenbach said, because people can see firsthand the trauma and sacrifice front-line workers have made during the global health crisis.

“Now with COVID we’ve seen other issues come out,” Kallenbach said. “It’s about fighting for each other.”

» ckemp@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @The_ChelseaKemp

Chelsea Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun

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