Dustin Sieker, a late first responder, will have funds raised in his name during the first annual “Talk to Me” Color Run/Walk on May 4.
Photo courtesy of Belinda Sieker’s Facebook
The first annual “Talk to Me” Color Run/Walk is honouring the late Dustin Sieker by raising funds for mental health and PTSD awareness for other first responders.The five-kilometre event will be hosted at the Wapiti Nordic Ski Club starting 11 a.m. May 4. All proceeds will go towards mental health programs and the Dustin Sieker Legacy Fund Scholarship through the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta.Belinda Sieker, the mother of Dustin, explained how her son Dustin had ran several Color Me Rad races in Edmonton.“I remember him showing me pictures and talking about it and how much fun it was,” Sieker said. “We have to stop the stigma, obviously, of mental health and that being an issue and stuff so I thought he loved doing that kind of thing, so let’s do a colour race and let’s incorporate it with metal health and the issues that are out there.”Born and raised in the region, Dustin Sieker had been an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and EMS Operation Supervisor in Grande Prairie.“Dustin was the backbone to EMS and first responders. He worked hard and always had a smile on his face. He was a mentor, a supporter and a friend to many; his colleagues were his family,” said his friend Danielle Joly on legacy fund’s webpage.In May 2018, Dustin died by suicide at the age of 36.“We never had any idea that he was actually suffering as badly as he was,” Belinda said.The Dustin Sieker Legacy Fund was later created to provide student awards for advanced care paramedics and contribute to local mental health programs.The run directly supports this fund. During the event, runners will be sprayed with coloured chalk while wearing white T-shirts.Runners will also collect ribbons along the trail if they talk to someone with the person with the most ribbons receiving a prize. In addition, the event features silent auction items and a barbecue by donation.“It’s going to a very good cause,” Belinda said. “I just like to really put it out there about the mental health and people needing to talk. And like I said, that’s what the race is all about, ‘talk to me’ and just bringing awareness to the mental health and PTSD and what first responders are going through on a daily basis.”As of Wednesday, 575 people were registered for the race.“I couldn’t have asked for a bigger and better response,” Belinda said. “It’s absolutely fantastic.”Tickets are available at Eventbrite.