All good things come to an end, but that doesn't mean the best is yet to come. For us, it keeps getting better and better; 2015 was full of amazing opportunities and unforgettable experiences. Thanks for being part of it.
The end of the year is the best time of year for us as we tally up the funds and write the checks to award grants to qualified treatment centers. We are happy to announce that collectively, Runwell participants raised $175,000 in 2015, our biggest year yet! The organization awarded $90,000 in grants to 11 treatment facilities, and $40,000 is to go into the wellness program fund to continue supporting those in active treatment, giving them a chance at long-term recovery with the help of Runwell’s positive, active community (that we couldn’t do any of this without!).
2015 grant recipients:
Congratulations to our grant recipients, and thank you to all of you for making this possible!
Early in the year, Runwell Founder Linda Quirk took on the longest race of her running career, the Brazil 135+ ultramarathon. Then 61, Quirk’s motivation was being the example to people that it’s never too late to achieve feats they never thought possible, from overcoming addiction to finishing a race. In this interview, Linda talks about why she started Runwell and what inspires her to keep moving forward.
Our goal was simple: give these individuals an immediate opportunity to get involved in a positive, active community, many who have been in their shoes a time or two. People who can be role models, coaches and supporters of their sobriety. Give them the opportunity to restore their bodies and brains from the damage addiction caused and help them benefit from the therapeutic effects of exercise. Show them how to reinstill confidence and a sense of self care, things many of them have abandoned throughout their addiction.
In April, we initiated a pilot wellness program with Gateway Community Services in Jacksonville, FL. This program, which is optional for patients undergoing treatment, is also offered to alumni and staff, and is implemented at no cost to the treatment facility. Participants join group runs/walks throughout the week as part of their training for organized races selected by the Runwell Ambassador(s) leading the groups.
The pilot program at Gateway in Jacksonville is led by Ambassador Michael Martinez; the West Coast program was implemented in August at New Found Life in Long Beach, CA is led by Ambassador Walter Bortman.
“I get so much gratitude and personal satisfaction seeing the Runwell participants at Gateway get better with their own recovery and also enjoying being active and running, says Martinez. I feel blessed and honored to be a part of something special like this program.”
It has been exhilarating to witness the transformation in these individuals and help provide the tools they need to reach long-term recovery.
On the weekend of October 3rd and 4th, Runwell leaders and ambassadors met in Washington D.C. to take part in the FED UP! and UNITE to Face Addiction rallies. The team also held its first retreat where many members were meeting for the first time.
Check out what the ambassadors had to say about the weekend, and consider joining us in 2016 as we continue to change the conversation about addiction.
Runwell Founder Linda Quirk is at it again, this time two Runwell athletes are joining her on the journey of a lifetime. This year, Team Runwell committed to the 2016 4Deserts Roving Race, a 155-mile, 6-stage, 7-day ultramarathon in Sri Lanka. Runwell athletes are ambassador Walter Bortman, and wellness program participant Patrick Bowles.
Walter Bortman is one of Runwell’s West Coast ambassadors. He’s 2+ years sober and has immersed himself into the Runwell and crossfit communities and hasn’t gone a day since treatment that he doesn’t have a race coming up. “I have been invested in something every day since I finished treatment. It’s kept me focused, in shape, and around new friends that are positive influences. I feel physically amazing.”
Patrick Bowles became involved with Runwell through his participation in the running and wellness program while in active treatment at Gateway Community Services. After living half his young life as an addict, Patrick, 24, is jumping into the world of running with both feet and soaking up the benefits the sport has to offer.
“I don’t know whether it’s the meditation of running, the adrenaline, the chance to do something that is entirely mine that no one can take from me, or just the peace of mind that comes with focusing on the next stride. That’s the beauty of it, when I run, nothing else matters. Everything falls away from me as soon as my left foot follows my right foot,” says Bowles. “The chance to take on something as big as Sri Lanka is a motivator and an incredibly opportunity for me to experience life. I’ve never left the US and I feel I never really lived life, I merely existed within life, and now I get to really live.”
Runwell’s founder Linda Quirk didn’t start running until she was about 35, when her brother asked her to run a marathon with him. She took the challenge and even with no formal training, she was hooked after that first race. Now, at 62, she’s still running to help undo negative perceptions associated with the disease of addiction, and to give those suffering, or who have suffered with the disease hope. As well as an active, supportive community in which they can thrive.
A total of 106 participants collectively ran 9,188 miles for Recovery Month 2015, almost all the way around the country (was our ambitious goal). The month of September is very important to us, as it's a time to focus on the positive aspects of recovery, and show everyone that recovery is possible and great, great things can come with recovery.
This year’s New York City Marathon generated the highest donations in a single event in Runwell’s history. The group designated their funds to treatment scholarships at Caron Treatment Centers.