5K race highlights recovery from opioid addiction
Runners and walkers raced against the clock in an Anchorage 5K run Saturday -- but instead of trophies or other prizes, all the participants ran in support of families dealing with the concerns and pain caused by opioid addiction.
"It's all about all of the tools that we can give to people with addiction, and people that are helping people with addiction and family members that need support. We give them all the tools they need to overcome the obstacles," said race organizer Kim Whitaker.
Addiction experts in Anchorage say every week, up to four Alaskans lose their lives to drug overdoses. Last year the state's Division of Public Health reported 128 deaths that were drug-related.
Whitaker is also the founder of REAL About Addiction, a community group helping to push addicts towards recovery. Whitaker's own daughter is a heroin addict.
"When I do assist someone into (a) recovery program, it gives me hope that someday it will be my daughter," Whitaker said.
Karen Malcolm-Smith is another parent affected by addiction. In June, she and her family were featured in a story on KTVA soon after her son Dylan died of an overdose.
"If my son could see what was going on now and, how the community is starting to embrace them and understand that they're loved, he would've jumped in," said Malcolm-Smith when describing what the event meant to her.
One by one the runners crossed the finish line. Scott Clemetson was first, finishing the 5K race in just over 19 minutes. Clemetson says he was once addicted to alcohol, but now he's sober thanks to the help he once received.
"It's God putting me in a place where I had to just be honest about where I was going, and what I was doing, and truly that what it's about being truly honest with yourself, and that really the basis of recovery right here," Clemetson said.
He took part in the race as a way to help people in recovery like former 7-year addict Marianne Norcross of Bethel a second chance of a drug free life.
"It hits close to home for me not only because I'm an addict but because I've lost you know my friend Matt, and then to lose Dylan who I was so close to both of them," Norcross said. "So I'm really happy to see everybody out here, and spread the awareness."
On Sunday at 3 p.m, The 3rd Annual "Let's Make Recovery The Epidemic" drug awareness rally is taking place at the Delaney Park Strip. A flyer with details is available on REAL About Addiction's website.