Emergency services members enjoyed a warm welcome in Footscray on Friday after running from Mildura to raise money and awareness for mental health.

The MFB, CFA, Victoria Police and Ambulance Victoria all joined the second annual Damien Burke Mildura to Melbourne Memorial Relay Run, a 653-kilometre fundraiser named after a decorated Footscray firefighter whose sudden death last year had a profound impact on Victorian firefighters.

Mr Burke’s memory was celebrated at the time of his death with a spontaneous tribute that saw the number 47 – the number of Footscray fire station – emblazoned on fire trucks across the state.

Leading firefighter and run co-ordinator Steve Axup said the relay 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 event, which culminated with the Melbourne Fire Fighter Stair Climb on Sunday, aimed to raise $500,000.

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