POLICE escort and flashing lights on vintage fire trucks made a striking statement with this running pack.
They arrived in Ballarat to honour firefighter and soldier Nathan Shanahan and in the name of Damien Burke, who served in the Country Fire Authority with Shanahan in Mildura.
Both took their own lives last year, Shanahan after battling post-traumatic stress.
This group, predominantly emergency services workers, are running for improved support and prevention for PTS and suicide.
It has been an emotional journey for the Burke and Shanahan families, but they say there has been a lot of fun and light-hearted stories too.
Burke’s wife Anne rode the whole way from Mildura with support crew with six of their nine children running in the relay. Shanahan’s wife and young children helped on the weekend while his sister Felicity, her friends and dad John stepped in leading up to Ballarat.
“This is just amazing – we were wondering what would Damien and Nathan think about this and they’d probably wonder what all the fuss was about,” Ms Burke said.
“It’s an amazing feeling to see the show of support for the families and the incredible amount of respect for Damien and Nathan.
“Runners have really worked well as a team, especially on the days when it was a bit more of a challenge without as many runners.”
The second annual Damien Burke Memorial Relay Run set out on Saturday and will arrive in Footscray, on Friday before a group walk or run to the Crown Metropol Hotel the next morning to contest the Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climb.
Shanahan was involved in organising the inaugural run last year and his father was humbled the route was modified this year to take in his hometown.
“People have actually been stopping, looking and taking in what this is all about,” John Shanahan said. “This is a major issue...We need more funds and more resources made available Australia-wide.”
Burkey’s M2M2 aims to raise $500,000 to benefit Black Dog Institute and Lifeline support, research and mental health awareness.