Emergency services members are hitting the road from Mildura to Melbourne this week to raise money and awareness for mental health.
The MFB, CFA, Victoria Police and Ambulance Victoria are all taking part in the second Damien Burke Mildura to Melbourne Memorial Relay Run, named after a decorated firefighter who died suddenly last year.
The relay was launched in Deer Park last week and set out from Mildura on Sunday. Leading firefighter and run co-ordinator Steve Axup said it was a great way to pay tribute to a colleague and raise some much-needed funds for Lifeline and the Black Dog Institute.
“Damien … was a committed firefighter, and while he was on secondment in Mildura he really blind-sided all of us and took his own life … we created this event in his honour,” Mr Axup said. “Within the emergency services sector, post traumatic stress disorder is a real concern, and becomes far more prevalent and presents itself in many different forms.”
The first relay in 2016 raised $15,000 for Lifeline. It is hoped this year’s event will raise $500,000 across the week-long 653 kilometre trek.
The relay will culminate with the Melbourne Fire Fighter Stair Climb on Sunday where more than 630 firefighters from across the country will climb the Crown Metropol tower in full gear.
Damien’s wife, Anne Burke, said it was an emotional time, but her husband would have been proud.
“I think he’d [Damien] be blown away to think that this has been arranged in his name. It’s really moving to see all the support.”
Donate at www.firefighterclimb.org.au