The recipient for this year’s Pink Helmet of Courage Award could easily have been nominated for any one of the FSWO awards for her ongoing commitment and service to her community, both within and outside the fire service. She has always been known for her willingness to assist in any way that would help others, particularly when it comes to those who are struggling with mental health. In building supportive peer networks in the fire service, this person is an inspirational and enthusiastic leader in helping others overcome anxiety, doubt and internal perceptions of failure by acknowledging that it is ok to ask for help.
Asking for help is not easy, especially for someone who is so accustomed to putting others first. As a mother of three who is also married to another firefighter, Officer Hunt realized she couldn’t care for her family and salvage her career without getting help. She knew first-hand the impact that micro aggressions and overt acts of gender-based harassing behaviour have on an individual’s ability to function at work and at home. She dug into her own personal pain and did the hard work that set her on a path of recovery. She also recognized that in order to get control of her life and her future, she had to give up self-defeating behaviours and negative thought processes that were sending her into a state of personal despair and hopelessness.
Trying to face one’s fears with a PTSD diagnosis is not easy, but Officer Hunt demonstrated incredible courage by not only finding a path to recovery, but in sharing her personal story publicly with other first responders. She continues to share her story through podcasts, speaking at this year’s symposium and offering to mentor so many others who quietly come to her for help. She is becoming well known and highly regarded for her leadership and expertise in the first responder mental health field having recently become certified as an Instructor of Resilient Minds, the Trauma Support Project and taking over her own Department’s Peer Support Program.
Cheryl, you continue to demonstrate your courage in facing adversity through all of your hard-working effort and initiatives and you embody the mandate of FSWO by Educating, Encouraging and Empowering women in the fire service. You are a true "SHero”!