Author:Toronto Star

Jean-Paul Bédard, a long-distance runner and advocate for survivors of sexual abuse, is the keynote speaker at the 2017 Mindfest mental health fair

If there is one thing Jean-Paul Bédard knows, it’s endurance.

The long-distance runner has more than 100 marathons under his belt and trains enough to run a new pair of sneakers ragged every few weeks.

He also knows about another kind of resiliency. As a boy he suffered sexual abuse, which set him on a path to drug addiction and alcoholism. Many years later he opened up about his past to his family and then publicly came out in support of child sex-abuse survivors.

In 2013, Bédard ran the Boston Marathon, soon after telling his family about the sexual trauma he had experienced as a child for the first time. He was overcome with grief during the marathon and had to stop to compose himself. He reached the finish line 20 minutes before two bombs went off, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others. The experience left him with post-traumatic stress disorder.

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