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24 Hours of Heroes event raises funds for veterans, first responders with PTSD

24 Hours of Heroes has raised $40,000 since its launch in 2016.
24 Hours of Heroes has raised $40,000 since its launch in 2016.

Fanshawe College is staying up and active all night long.

Athletes and members of the public are participating in the 4th annual 24 Hours of Heroes event to honour fallen servicemen and women and raise funds for Wounded Warriors Canada.

The event is hosted at Fanshawe College and has participants perform one CrossFit-style workout every hour on the hour for 24 hours straight.

“There’s some nervous energy… (but) they’re feeling pretty excited,” founder of 24 Hours of Heroes Gord Hicks told 980 CFPL.

The workouts are designed to be gruelling and uncomfortable to remind participants of the sacrifices made by those who serve in the armed forces.

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Among the group of 300 to 400 athletes are members of London police and fire, the Ontario Provincial Police, 31 Canadian Brigade Group and the naval reserve.

Exercises began after the opening ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday and will last throughout the night until 11 a.m. Sunday.

Co-organizer Cheri Doan said the workouts honour veterans and first responders who have died in the line of duty.

“We have workouts that represent police, fire, ambulance, veterans and RCMP,” she said. “Each workout is dedicated to someone (and) has a name.

“The first workout is ‘OP Jaley.’ It honours four (veterans) who were killed in the line of duty on an operation.”

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Hicks and Doan both plan to stay overnight at the college to participate in the event.

“We have lots of snacks and coffee, and just the energy of the community keeps you going,” Doan said on the secret to staying awake and active for 24 hours.

“It’s quite amazing when you get all of these athletes in one space, and how they just feed off one one another, and (there’s) a DJ to get the music going.”

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Hicks said organizers are hoping to raise $25,000 once the athletes pass the finish line at 11 a.m. Sunday in support of Wounded Warriors Canada, a charity that aids veterans and first responders who live with PTSD.

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24 Hours of Heroes has raised $40,000 since its launch in 2016.

Hicks invites those interested in supporting the event to visit Fanshawe College prior to 11 a.m. Sunday — even if you don’t want to work out.

“People can come and watch the athletes, talk to some of them, there are vendors here, and we have PTSD service dogs on-site as well.”