What started as a memorial run for East Hartford police officer Paul Buchanan six years ago, is now a tradition that’s making a difference for first responders struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder across the state.
“We wanted to find a way to remember him and also to share and bring awareness to suicide prevention and PTSD,” said Trish Buchanan, who founded the Believe 208 Run for the Brave and Finest in memory of her husband. Paul Buchanan died by suicide in 2013.
Trish said all of the funds raised at the race go to the Connecticut Alliance to Benefit Law Enforcement.
“We have peer support trainings, we have weekend retreats, any type of resources or anything that our officers, first responders, corrections officers or their families need, we’ve been able to help them,” Trish said.
Trish’s son, Jared Buchanan, said the show of support at this race year after year has helped him heal after his father’s death.
“I just hope that by us being here we can really show other people struggling and those who have just lost people that it’s O.K. and you’ll do alright and carry on,” said Jared.
“We had two officers in the past two years commit suicide,” said Marie Cetti, a K9 police officer in Bridgeport, who was one of the runners this morning. Cetti ran in honor of the men she calls her “brothers.”
“It’s very hard to deal with something like this when you see them on a daily basis and not know that anything is wrong,” Cetti explained.
One of her friends was Sgt. Mark Belinkie, a 19 year veteran who lost his life to suicide last march.
“Seven months ago, he took his own life. I am now all alone, a husbandless wife,” said Belinkie’s wife through tears. Her emotional words before the race reminded everyone why they were there. “Those like my beloved mark will not disappear.”
The state recently passed a law to cover work-related PTSD for police and firefighters. The Buchanan family said the work isn’t done until others like EMS workers and corrections officers are also supported.