Surrey resident Steve Heimburger set out on a 650-kilometre walk from Castlegar to Hope on July 5 to raise awareness and support for those living with schizophrenia.
One person who inspired Heimburger to do the trip is his nephew, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and has had to overcome some major obstacles along the way.
“As an adolescent, he was withdrawn and going through a lot of things. Medical practitioners didn’t seem terribly concerned about him,” said Heimburger.
“After, he withdrew even further and started to self-medicate. He was going through a very dark period and almost took his own life. Thankfully, through discussions with his parents, they were finally able to put him in a way of a proper diagnosis and treatment.”
To start the journey, Heimburger set out on the Columbia and Western Trail and followed it to its endpoint in Midway. He then took the Kettle Valley Rail Trail to Naramata and now hopes to complete the trail and his trip in Hope by late July.
To start the journey, Heimburger had to walk 12 kilometres from downtown Castlegar to the trailhead after he couldn’t find reliable transportation.
Despite the setback, Heimburger pushed on to cover between 25 and 35 kilometres a day on the trail.
Heimburger will use food caches in Princeton and Naramata that he dropped off while taking a bus from Surrey to Castlegar.
There have been two big challenges during the trip so far, according to Heimburger.
“One big issue has definitely been my body. My feet have been pretty sore during the trip.
“The mental aspect has been another issue. Getting up every day has been a challenge since it’s a long hike.”
Heimburger hopes to raise $5,000 to the British Columbia Schizophrenia Society during his trip. Donations can be made on his fundraiser page at bcss.org/walking-the-talk-with-steve-heimburger/.
Schizophrenia impacts about one per cent of the population and can cause hallucinations, sleep disturbances and withdrawal from social activities, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.