TEWKSBURY — It was during last year’s Annual Run for Recovery, which took place in mid-September, that event spokesperson Mary-Ellen Cooper reported that the Into Action Recovery, Inc. organization had raised sufficient funds to purchase their first sober-living home located in Tewksbury.
That home, according to Cooper, is now up-and-running and taking in clients.
“Today, September 15, 2019, marks the one-year anniversary that we opened the doors to our first home,” shared Cooper, moments after she sent the participants on their way. “We named our first home Fox Run Sober Living. It’s a men’s home and currently, we have nine clients.”
Cooper went on to say that Fox Run has room for twelve and is also utilized for alumni events. A number of the former residents who have completed the program and moved on with their lives return to take part in post-treatment meetings, she explained.
Cooper’s nephew David Hanley, formerly of Wilmington but now residing in Tewksbury, is the Program Director and along with a live-in house manager administers a “structured residential 12-step recovery program for individuals struggling with drug and alcohol addiction,” according to the Into Action website.
A key component of Cooper’s successful fundraising effort has been a popular road race, organized and orchestrated by a capable and dedicated committee each fall. The 4th Annual Run for Recovery 5K embarked from the Tewksbury Memorial High School early Sunday and featured 150 official finishers.
According to Cooper, the funds raised via the road race are funneled into a scholarship tailored for recovering addicts who might need a financial boost until they gain employment.
“The proceeds from this event are set aside for scholarships,” she explained. “Often times, people fresh in recovery are still seeking work and they need some help. They can apply for a scholarship to help get them on their feet.
Race participants, many adorned in the neon-blue T-shirts designed by Jessica Hanley for this event, were met with a flawless, sun-drenched 68-degree morning — none better for a 3.1-mile tour of Tewksbury roadways, and all for an important cause.
First to reach the finish line at the entrance of TMHS was Tewksbury’s 37-year-old Kurt Ronan, who handily outpaced the field in a winning time of 18:10. Formerly of Boston, the tall and lanky Ronan was quick to credit distance running and racing with his success in beating addiction.
“Thanks to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and running, I’ve been clean now for six years,” said Ronan, who covered the 5K course in a 5:50 per mile pace. “When I first entered a halfway house in Boston, a group would come in several times a week to empower running as a means to gain confidence and feel good about yourself.”
It seems to be working for Ronan, who typically trains 40-60 miles weekly and is currently preparing for the Berlin, Germany marathon.
Jason Chiesa, 38, also of Tewksbury, was second to make the turn from Pleasant Street in a finishing time of 20:16. Wrapping up the top-3 males was 22-year-old Andrew Valdina, of Chelmsford, in a time of 21:37.
The Masters division, 40-and over, was well-represented by Tewksbury’s Jonathan Duggan (11th overall, 25:40), Christopher Shea of North Andover (21st, 28:58), and Stoneham’s Daniel Snyder (58th, 46:25).
The future of Tewksbury running was also on display as 15-year-old TMHS sophomore Macy Chapman led the women’s contingent across the line in a stellar time of 22:18. Chapman, a member of the Redmen cross country team, eclipsed her personal best by a wide margin.
“My previous best was a little over 24-minutes,” said Chapman, who placed 5th overall and covered the distance in a blistering 7:15 per mile pace. “This is my first year running cross country and we’ve been doing a lot of new workouts which I think has helped me.”
Trailing Chapman was 23-year-old Chelsee Porcaro (7th overall, 23:47) and 33-year-old Jennifer Dillon (12th, 26:46), both also from Tewksbury.
Masters division women were led by Billerica’s Heather Holman-Doyle (14th, 26:56), Krissy Naughton-Chapman (18th, 28:41) and Isabel Guante (23rd, 30:10), both Tewksbury residents.
Cooper and her board of directors were highly successful in securing generous sponsors for the event, as well as providing a wide array of amenities for the participants.
“We want to thank Butch Bergeron of Corporate Image for printing our shirts and Paul Bourassa of C&A Awards for once again donating our trophies and medals,” she said. “Also, we have to thank Big Top Party Rental for donating the tents and sponsoring the famous hot dog stand.”
Cooper went on to pay tribute to her many sponsors including Bright Baked Goods, Pure Barre of Westford, Enterprise Bank, Learn to Cope, Clean Slate, and Tewksbury Cares, among others.
“Our sponsorship numbers were up this year,” she said. “Year after year, this event gets bigger and better. We had a number of families come out to honor those who lost the addiction battle but we also had a lot of people who are in recovery themselves who run, walk, or volunteer. Our next goal is raise enough to open a second home for women.”