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Fist Responders in Canmore
Jungmin Ham | Rocky Mountain Outlook

Retired Heroes Ride Again: Canmore-Based First Responders Still Giving Back

Paul Attenborough and Mike Henderson are riding 500 km to support two non-profits helping veterans, first responders, and retired service dogs

Even in retirement, many first responders continue giving back to their communities. 

They just can’t help it: it’s in their nature.

Paul Attenborough, a retired firefighter, and Mike Henderson, a retired Parks Canada warden and dog handler, are two exemplary examples of people who have devoted their lives to community service. 

Starting in mid-September, the Canmore-based friends plan to ride 500 km of BC’s Kettle Valley Trail to raise awareness and funds for two non-profit organizations: Ned’s Wish and the Calgary Veterans Services Society.

Retired Parks Canada dog handler Mike Henderson, left, and firefighter Paul Attenborough will ride 500 km in September for charity |
Retired Parks Canada dog handler Mike Henderson, left, and firefighter Paul Attenborough will ride 500 km in September for charity | Jungmin Ham | Rocky Mountain Outlook

High Rates of PTSD 

Both Attenborough and Henderson have seen some traumatic events in their careers. 

A shocking 1 in 3 first responders develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives. 

This includes 15% of paramedics, 13% of search and rescue teams, 7% of firefighters, and 5% of police officers. 

A 2019 study revealed that among firefighters, suicidal ideation (46%), suicide plans (29%), and suicide attempts (15%) are much higher than the general population.

Helping Responders Help Themselves

Sarka was an explosive detection dog with the Calgary Police Service from September 2009 to April 2017, and Ned’s Wish helped her live a healthy retirement | Ned’s Wish

The Calgary Veterans Services Society, through the Veterans Food Bank of Calgary, provides more than basic needs such as food, clothes, and cleaning supplies for veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces and Reserves and first responders. 

The organization also hosts job retraining, a job board, and a wilderness retreat on 142 acres of pristine land in Clearwater County, which allows first responders and veterans to reconnect to nature. 

All of these services are provided free of charge to veterans and first responders, but of course, they also cost money to run.   

Ned’s Wish helps retired police, military, and Parks Canada (search and rescue) dogs have healthy and dignified retirements. 

The charity mainly pays vet bills to ensure these retired working dogs can enjoy a good standard of living for their remaining years. 

Some of these canine heroes have searched for avalanche victims while others sniff for illegal drugs. 

The United States Armed Forces reports that military dogs can exhibit PTSD and need time to decompress and reintegrate into society.

You Can Be a Hero Too! 

Canmore residents can help by buying a pint of beer at Sheepdog Brewing on July 27 between 3 – 6 pm. 

Mike and Paul are training for their 500km trek by riding around the trails in Canmore |

We know that’s a tough sacrifice but you can do it!

Two dollars from each pint will be donated to Attenborough and Henderson. 

Gourlay Clinic Pharmacy is accepting donations and will match every dollar raised for the charity bike trek.

Way to go!

If you can’t make it to one of those events, you can always donate directly to through the GoFundMe link. 

Attenborough and Henderson have raised just over $3,000 of their $10,000 fundraising goal, which will be divided equally between the two chosen charities. 

Let’s do our part to help these two local heroes fundraise to support the work of two deserving charities! 

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