1 step at a time!

Firefighter raising money for worthy association

Julien Bergeron runs during last year’s trek. Photos courtesy of Julien Bergeron.

Susan Thompson
South Peace News

For the third year in a row Northern Sunrise County deputy fire chief Julien Bergeron will be running to raise money for the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Association.

Bergeron says he is “not a natural born runner” but the cause is important to him.

“I have been with the fire service since 2006 and couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else,” he says.

“In 2017, I signed up for an online challenge which required me to run 1,000 miles over the course of a few months. I managed to complete the challenge by doing a combination of runs, jogs, walks, what have you. Woohoo, I earned a patch and raised $20 for a cause that didn’t even mean that much to me. I decided to create a different event.”

Bergeron founded the Northern Trek for CFFF in 2018 to promote healthy living through physical activity while also raising funds for the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation, which honours and remembers firefighters killed in the line of duty and supports their families.

“As a fire officer, I believe it is my duty to lead by example and show that it isn’t all that difficult to put some time aside every other day to do some physical activity,” he says.

Northern Trek was an instant hit among fire departments across the province. Companies, firefighters associations and municipalities sponsored portions of the run with all funds going to the foundation.

“In 2018, I ran from the City of Grande Prairie to Northern Sunrise County administration office [just outside of Peace River]. It took me five days to cover the 206 km trek and raised over $12,000 for the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation,” Bergeron says.

“In 2019, I decided to change the route from Edson to Jasper [a distance of over 185 km] and started training early in the year. But something happened in May 2019 that would impact me, many Albertan fire departments, and a few thousand residents of northern Alberta municipalities.”

That “something” was the Chuckegg Creek Wildfire.

“[It] was a monster which required a monstrous response to control and save the municipalities it threatened.”

Bergeron got the call about the fire on May 18, 2019 from the Town of High Level fire chief Rodney Schmidt, requesting his attendance and the attendance of the Northwest Alberta All-Hazard Incident Management Team [Alberta Task Force 1].

“Responding was my only option as was the thought of countless of responders that answered the call from across the province to assist,” he says.

Bergeron says the days spent in the Incident Command Post during the wildfire were long, straining and didn’t allow much time to stop and train for Northern Trek.

“But being the stubborn man I am, I refused to push back the set start date of June 15, 2019. I continued to assist with the response until the end of May and prepared for the upcoming trek the best I could. Although I did complete the trek in 2019, I had to stop halfway as I suffered some leg injuries and needed to recover. I returned in August to complete the journey and still managed to raise over $15,000 for the foundation.”

This year, Bergeron is running from La Crete to High Level to Paddle Prairie because those are the communities that were most affected by the Chuckegg Fire. It’s a distance of about 185 km.

The Northern Trek for CFFF will begin on Aug. 25.

“I will be escorted by fire apparatus from surrounding municipalities and will run on the roadway so many responders used daily during the wildfire and the roadway so many residents used to evacuate from their homes in May 2019,” Bergeron says.

Multiple fire departments and other sponsors have donated so far, bringing this year’s trek to a current total of well over $13,000 raised.

Bergeron says he has raised over $40,000 total over the last three years.

Northern Trek for CFFF

Northern Trek for CFFF raises funds for the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Northern Trek 2020: Chuckegg Edition will be set in northwest Alberta in and around the areas impacted by the Chuckegg Creek Fire of 2020. Deputy fire chief Julien Bergeron of Northern Sunrise County Protective Services will be running from La Crete to High Level, then from Paddle Prairie, back to High Level, a distance about 180 km. Northern Trek started in 2018 and its first two years raised a combined total of $28,550 for the foundation. Northern Trek focuses on raising awareness to the importance of health and fitness in the emergency services industry all in the while to support families of fallen brothers and sisters through the foundation. Be part of the support, donate today.

Julien Bergeron carries the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Association flag at the start of his trek in 2019.

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