It is not often that a Calgary Flames veteran comes to town, but when he does, it is for an extremely important cause.
The valley was graced with the presence of NHL star Theoren Fleury on Thursday, July 19 as he led the Drumheller chapter of the Victor Walk.
The Victor Walk along with partner, The Breaking Free Foundation, has been walking across Alberta since July 17, to raise awareness about sexual abuse and mental health.
Fleury, a previous victim of sexual child abuse, talked about how he survived and overcame his past.
"For many years, I struggled with what happened to me. I kept it very secretive, and that alone caused me to have all kinds of problems and issues," explained Fleury. "I tried to take my life 14 years ago, not because I wanted to die, but because I was exhausted from living in emotional pain. Finally, I just went, you know, I am just going to take a leap of faith and see what happens."
In 2009, Fleury published a book sharing his personal experiences with childhood sexual abuse, hoping to spread awareness and ended up creating a community for survivors.
"I ran into a whole bunch of other people who had the same experience as me. They said to me 'I saw an interview you did' or 'I read your book and I found the courage to find my own voice and come out.' And that is why we do this; to give people an opportunity to find their voice," continued Fleury.
Funds raised from the Victor Walk go directly to help fund The Breaking Free Foundation's Therapy Grant Program.
The program provides designated therapy programs for those who can not afford it, or need help.
According to The Breaking Free Foundations website, the program differs from other free counseling services by paying the trauma therapist their regular fee to ensure the best possible quality of therapy.
"The Victor Movement and The Breaking Free Foundation, that's what we are all about. We are all about sharing, talking and being vulnerable. And what's happened is some amazing and incredible stories have come out, out of my own pain and suffering," said Fleury.
Sexual Assault Canada and Statistics Canada state that one in two girls and one in two boys will experience unwanted sexual advances before the age of eighteen.
"The biggest epidemic on the planet right now is trauma, mental health and addiction. We think they are separate but they all live in the same house. What I found is, what is the best therapy is, is to find somebody you trust and find someone you feel safe with, and tell them your story," advised Fleury.
The Victor Walk movement recently visited the cities of Fort McMurray, Lac La Biche and Cold Lake before stopping in Drumheller.
Fleury also took time to speak with inmates of the Drumheller Institution while in the valley.
"I just think everyone coming together for this cause is really important and to stop sweeping this under the rug because it is something that is really prominent," said local organizer for the Victor Walk, Dawn Fontane.
The Victor Walk has one more stop in Medicine Hat tomorrow, July 20, before capping the final walk off in Calgary on Saturday, July 21.