As the drug epidemic grows in Erie County, community members made strides to address the problem.
Around 200 runners and walkers laced their sneakers for the 20th Annual Race for Recovery at Presque Isle State Park.
“Drug and alcohol abuse is something that’s serious and I think it’s important that we address it and we’ve got a great group of people here today so it’s a pleasure to be a part of it,” said Daniel Yunes, a participant.
Donors alone raised more than ten-thousand dollars to benefit Gaudenzia Erie, Incorporated, a nonprofit that provides complete care to addicts.
“In Erie County alone we have nine facilities. We have five in Erie and we have four satellite facilities and all that money stays 100 percent local to give help and hope to our clients,” said Jason Kisielewski, the community affairs manager with Gaudenzia.
As people crossed the finish line, they also took a step to stop the stigma around addiction.
“There are people in the community that may view addiction as a very negative thing but it really is a disease that a lot of people in our community suffer from,” said Dante Battles, a supervisor with Erie County Adult Probation and Parole.
In addition to providing resources, Gaudenzia also works to change the way people think about the recovery process.
Organizers said that’s why events like this one are so important.
They raise awareness, funds and support for those people in a race with addiction.
“It really shows that there is help in the community out there for people who are battling addiction and to show them that we’re behind them. We want to help them beat this thing that they’re going through,” said Kisielewski.