I have always believed physical fitness is vital for a healthy lifestyle for all ages. I tried to instill this in my three children as they grew up. I find exercise to be a therapeutic way to work things out mentally, spiritually and physically. It is an integral part of my lifestyle and my personal and professional priorities. It has served me well. This year is no different. My family and I have experienced a grave tragedy in life, the death of my 30 year old son, my eldest, from a drug overdose. He struggled with addiction for many years and succumbed to it on June 15, 2018. 5 days after his 30th birthday. It is through faith, family and fitness that I have been able to survive this tragedy and possibly even thrive. It has not been easy but it has been transformative, deeply sad and yet uniquely rich. The love of so many has made it that way along with a good dose of exercise. My deceased son was a fitness buff too, it gave him relief and even hope at times. It is powerful stuff. I wish my son could know how much he was loved. I don’t think he did. However for me and my family the love of God, family, friends, colleagues and even strangers has been overflowing and ever-present this year.
Upon his death, we decided we would be very open about the cause of his death and the facts leading up to it. It was scary because of the stigma and judgements we thought might be made. But instead it turned out to be liberating, therapeutic and helpful to others. We began a campaign against #addiction – we studied the disease, read books, talked to researchers, politicians, celebrities, recovery professionals and impacted parents. We then shared our story and learnings and educated people about the #disease. We shared real #recovery stories and other solutions. We did media interviews, we talked to the US Surgeon General and embarked on a public education campaign.
To our surprise, others joined our cause in many ways. Many more people are doing their own tributes. They are speaking out, taking action and raising money to address the tragedy of #opioidepidemic #addiction facing this country. My colleagues, friends and families encouraged us, listened, spread the word, told us personal stories of struggles with the disease and shared stories of hope and recovery. Support was overwhelming, uplifting and unwavering! With a lot of support from others, we decided to pay tribute to my son by helping to raise over $21,000 to build a gym at a Recovery Home called Serenity House in the Chicagoland area. Although my son never attended this Recovery Home I served on the BOD to give back during his struggle.
My family team and I decided we would do something hard, different and extreme to honor his life and struggle, to bring light to the #opioidcrisis and focus on solutions to #endoverdose. We decided to bring attention to our cause by announcing that we would be hiking the Grand Canyon from Rim to Rim to mark the one year anniversary of Bud’s death and bring light to the devastating and isolating disease of addiction. Bud’s Dad decided he would join the effort by participating in a half iron man triathlon.
Our trip across the Grand Canyon – Rim to Rim was a long and winding road. 24 miles up down and around with a one-mile elevation change! Kind of like the journey to the center of the earth. But this was a “Trek Against Addiction” a tribute to my late son Bud. A journey of love. A path of ups and downs, deep valleys, cliffs and turns like Bud’s very own struggle. Not always seeing the way but still believing and going His way through faith. Although we could not save my son, perhaps we could help other people and families from this devastating and isolating disease in some way. So we chose to trek the #GrandCanyon on May 20-21 from Rim to Rim. We prepared for over 8 months to get ready including detailed planning, hard, regular training and healthy diets -fueled by chocolate milk and more.
This trek is over but the journey is not. Like the trail in the #GC – one step at a time. We can do this! Together we can #endoverdose and #stopthestigma.
Join our fight by donating directly to SerenityHouse.com/donations