Story by Bill Hornbostel

After experiencing some tragic losses in his family when growing up, Mark Williams was determined to help people.  He joined the Cramahe Firefighters Association and the Northumberland Paramedics. But as a first responder, he saw the toll that those jobs take on his coworkers. Williams says, “You can’t do what we do and expect it to never have an effect on us.” That effect is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is a mental health condition caused by experiencing a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. Sufferers often have severe anxiety, nightmares, or flashbacks of the event. PTSD can interfere with the to lead a normal life. According to several studies, emergency responders suffer from PTSD at a much higher rate than the general population. Williams says, “PTSD is nothing new, but in the past few years it has been getting the attention it needs. This is a positive change as it has helped remove the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses and injuries in many first responders.”

“The mental health of my ‘brothers and sisters’ has become a main priority,” says Williams. So, he set out to build a way to raise awareness of PTSD and help those suffering from it, and came up with PTSD Awareness Hockey Tournament and Fundraiser. “The whole reason behind this PTSD tournament is to show people how much support there is, and to raise money to support those who need help and for the organizations that provide it.”

“This tournament was my creation, it’s something that affects people close to me and I feel like it’s important. I asked my Brothers and Sisters within the Cramahe firefighters association to help me run this tournament and make it a success.”

And a success it has been! Last year, six local teams participated and raised over $2700, which was donated to TEMA. This year there will be 8 teams, and after the tournament there will be a pub night fundraiser at the Keeler Centre in Colborne. This year’s goal is to raise $5000, which will be split between TEMA and a local PTSD support organization, After the Call.

The Second Annual PTSD Awareness Hockey Tournament and Fundraiser starts at 9:30 AM on November 25th at the Keeler Centre. It will be followed by a pub night that begins at 6 PM, with live music by Sawmill Road.