Walk for Recovery: Over 200 Attendees Defy Weather to Champion Substance Use Disorder Awareness

Over 200 participants showed up to the event; Linda Stephens celebrates!

Despite the cold, rainy, and muddy conditions, more than 200 resilient individuals gathered at Deep Creek State Park for the inaugural Walk for Recovery, presented by Reflection House. This event, held on Saturday, showcased the unity and determination of the Garrett and Allegany counties’ communities in support of recovery from substance use disorder  (SUD).

Representing diverse groups ranging from politics to exercise, youth to seniors, and individuals to families, the participants braved the elements to embark on hikes along one of two State Park trails. These trails were adorned with signs carefully chosen by women in recovery, displaying sayings from their twelve-step program and personal aphorisms derived from their own recovery experiences. For many attendees, this was their first encounter with such inspiring messages and the serenity of the forest.

Rev. Jim Bentley commenced the event with a prayer, setting a solemn and hopeful tone. Distinguished guests were introduced, including Commissioner Paul Edwards and his wife, Emily Newman Edwards, the first elected female mayor of Grantsville, along with their supportive entourage. Joining them were Mayor Don Sincell of Mt Lake Park and Bob Stephens, the head of the Garrett County Health Department. The presence of these esteemed individuals underscored the event’s purpose: introducing the concept of recovery to Garrett County and fostering understanding and acceptance of women in recovery within the community.

Just one of many groups to attend, we appreciate the partnership of the Garrett County Republican Women’s Club – Patty Hammond, Lorie Friend, James Worthington, Kerrie Margroff, Club President Luanne Ruddell, Lisa & Christine Welch, Melita & Jamie Friend, Liz Morin, Emily Newman-Edwards & Paul Edwards, Nicole Bennett, Jackie Sackstein, Erika Boone and Ruth Beitzel (a Reflection House Board member). Also pictured is Reflection House Board Chair Tom Dabney.

Sadie Liller delivered an insightful presentation on the importance of Naloxone in every household and school, highlighting its potential to save lives within critical minutes following an overdose. Various vendors from the Health Department showcased and explained the array of treatment services available to the public, emphasizing the significance of accessible support. The Dove Center provided valuable information to increase awareness of the interconnectedness between addiction and abuse.

The most profound impact of the event emanated from the personal testimonies shared by individuals in recovery. Matt Friend, Alijah Hershman, Stevie Ervin, and Rachel Sincell shared their deeply personal stories, delving into the effects of addiction on their lives and the immense challenges faced by their loved ones during their arduous journey to recovery. Their accounts resonated with the audience, not only shedding light on the struggles but also highlighting the transformative power of recovery and the daily commitment required to maintain it.

Most intriguing of the groups who hiked was a large contingent from the Garrett County Republican Women Club and the Garrett County Democratic Club.  They were joined by groups such as Sober Posse, Pink Floyd, and the Rock Stars, Hart 4 Animals, and Jazzercise.  Whether with a named group or other groupings, everyone had a great time despite the rain.

Participants braved the rain to show solidarity in reducing stigma for SUD and SUD recovery.

The first-ever Walk for Recovery demonstrated the unwavering commitment and resilience of the community in the face of adversity. By coming together, participants sent a powerful message of hope, unity, and support to those affected by SUD. This event marks a significant step forward in raising awareness, reducing stigma, and promoting a community that embraces recovery as an essential and ongoing process.

This event raised more than $31,000 which will contribute to the overall goal of $200,000 required to match a State Grant of $200,000 for the Reflection House. As a building location is identified, construction and renovation will begin with the house expected to be open by late 2024.

For more information about the Reflection House, host of the Walk for Recovery, or to support future initiatives, please visit https://www.reflectionhousegc.org/ or contact Tom Dabney at tomdabneylaw@gmail.com or 301-616-9450.