Nearly 100 bikers participated in the second annual Highway of Heroes Motorcycle Ride in Nova Scotia on Saturday. With the goal of raising awareness about critical incident stress among military members and first responders, organizers hope the event inspires people to be mindful year-round.

Gathering in a parking lot in Dartmouth to make the 90km trip to Truro, N.S., the large group of riders assembled before heading out for the second annual installment of the tradition.

“Ours [event] is just trying to bring awareness to all veterans and first responders,” says Highway of Heroes Motorcycle Ride organizer, Ben Broome.

The event, which began in 2018, raises awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder for people who regularly experience traumatic events in their line of work.

“This is not only police and fire,” says Broome. “But you need to also acknowledge the nurses, the doctors, the tow truck operators, that are all seeing humanity at its worst – at its most vulnerable time.”

And the fundraiser is personal for many involved, as a large portion of participants are veterans or members of a military family – like Major Rob Truscott.

Still in service at Royal Canadian Air Force 12 Wing Shearwater, Truscott served in Afghanistan during a deadly conflict – losing friends.

“You want to make sure you do things to remember them,’ says Truscott. “No matter how you lose them, you want to make sure people don't get forgotten.”

For some, like veteran Eric Marsden, it’s less about hitting the highway and more so a chance to see the motorcycles and chat with other veterans. He says the event is important to remind the public of the sacrifices made by military members

“Keeps them thinking about the veterans and what they've done for other countries and for Canada itself,” says Marsden.

Meanwhile, Broome says he hopes events like Highway of Heroes Motorcycle Ride bring awareness to those unnecessarily suffering with PTSD – and changes what that acronym means.

“People know that it stands for post-traumatic stress disorder,” says Broome. “I say that there's too many that have been taking their own lives, so I call it ‘people that shouldn't die’ – it's not right that so many are giving in to their horrors and terrors because they're not getting the help.”

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Heidi Petracek