SPECIAL TO THE NEWS
PICTOU, N.S. – The scorching summer heat didn’t stop hundreds of people from attending the second annual Pictou Motorcycle Show and Shine last weekend.
More than 100 motorcycles were registered for the event, and more than $3,200 was raised, with donations still pouring in.
All proceeds raised from the show and shine go towards Wounded Warriors Canada. WWC funds mental health programs for ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members, veterans, first responders and their families.
Former army medic Shawn Wilkie came out to show his support for a cause he said most people know little about.
“So many people are unaware of what we do in the military. (This is) a good opportunity to promote that. It’s a chance to meet some veterans, talk to some people and find out what’s going on.”
While not a veteran himself, Zack Barkhouse registered his motorcycle “to show respect.”
“They deserve it, and they’ve earned (an event like this),” he said.
Organizer David McMullen said the WWC is a cause close to his heart. McMullen’s daughter and son-in-law are both retired veterans.
McMullen is particularly passionate about WWC’s PTSD service dog program. While neither McMullen’s daughter nor her husband use PTSD service dogs, McMullen said dogs have played an important role in their well-being since retiring.
While highly therapeutic for veterans with PTSD, service dog training is expensive. The WWC says training for one PTSD service dog is $15,000.
Frustrated with the lack of government support for veterans suffering from PTSD but unsure of how to act, McMullen said it was his beloved motorcycle that gave him inspiration.
“I (was) out for a ride trying to figure out what I can do. Then I thought, well, I’m sitting on what I can do.”
McMullen’s daughter, Stephanie Bourgeois, said she’s touched by her father’s efforts.
“Dad’s always been my biggest supporter in my military career, so it makes sense he would carry on to my retirement.”
She said while the show and shine is a great way for bikers and the general public to come together, it also helps celebrate younger veterans.
“I guess you kind of think of the veteran as someone who’s older, who’s served in WWII or something, but today’s veterans are 30, 35 years old. It’s important to have them acknowledged, because they’re recovering as well.”
Pleased with this year’s turnout, McMullen said it’s the local community’s support that has impressed him most of all.
“That’s what I’m getting the enjoyment out of. Seeing everybody else. Feeling pride in Canada and feeling pride in our veterans.”