Recovery celebration draws a crowd

10/04/2017

By Sue Cody

 

W2W Jordan's ReEcovery Rally 6 2017Nearly 100 people showed up Sept. 23 at the Astoria High School (AHS) track for a rally to support people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction and remember those who have died.

 

The hour-long Fun Run/Walk was organized by Jordan’s Hope for Recovery, an organization that celebrates recovery and seeks to remove the stigma of addiction and show another side of this epidemic. It is named for Jordan Strickland, a young Knappa man who died of a heroin overdose in 2015.

 

The scene is active, with people pushing strollers or visiting with their walking buddies as they circle the track. Runners whiz by in the outside lanes.

 

W2W Jordan's Recovery Rally 4FB 2017Tents sprout up like mushrooms in the center of the field. Under a purple and yellow tent, the Astoria Lions Club prepares hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch. Another tent is set up for speakers and musicians. Clatsop County Prevention Works offers healthy snacks; kids pop balloons with darts or dance with Smokey Bear and other characters in costume; tables offer information on recovery options, first aid, coffee and snacks.

 

W2W Jordan's Recovery Rally 1FB 2017Jordan’s Hope

 

“Jordan was the most sparkly child,” says Constance Waisenen, a neighbor of the Stricklands. “He was a great athlete and was super helpful — a kid full of charm. His death is a huge loss.”

 

As Waisenen watches kids hop around in gunny sacks and chase bubbles, she says, “This is a very healthy way to grieve so no other mother or father has to suffer.”

 

Jordan’s sister, Natasha, said the community support was amazing. “It brings hope and awareness and surrounds people with love. Events like this show the more positive attitude toward addiction and recovery.”

 

W2W Jordan's Recovery Rally 5FB 2017Three AHS high school seniors embraced the subject of addiction for their senior projects. They volunteered to host a children’s booth at the rally.

 

The students, Nick Hansen, Hannah McCarley and Raija Jaakola, created the game center by building a plywood dart board for popping balloons and a cornhole game. They gathered prizes and had gunny sack races.

 

They built a free-standing wall: Jordan’s Hope Memory Wall, on which people memorialized their friends who had died from addiction. On the other side, those in recovery wrote their names and length of sobriety.

 

“Addiction is a big deal that affects a lot of people and families,” says Nick. He is writing his senior paper on the hidden scenes of drugs in school. All three students agreed that there is a drug problem at their school that begins with smoking weed and leads to pills and escalates to “the whole rainbow of drugs.”

 

Raija says her paper will be on how addiction affects families. Hannah hasn’t clarified her topic, though it will center on addiction.

 

Two panels of widely different individuals spoke about their addiction and recovery. The first group averaged about 30 years of sobriety. The second group featured younger people who have fewer years of recovery. Both groups stressed the joy of being sober.

 

The Brownsmead Flats, the AHS Marching Band and other musicians performed at the rally.

 

W2W Jordan's Recovery Rally 2FB 2017Police officer Ken Hansen, who served as the AHS school resource officer for several years says, “What’s in the school mirrors what’s in society. Opioids are the hub of the wheel for other crimes. Property crimes are fueled by our opioid problem. We are reeling from the pain medications that doctors prescribe.

 

“Education and events like this help.”

 

The Way to Wellville and its sponsor, Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization support the reduction of opioid prescriptions and recovery efforts.

 

“We can’t do this alone,” says Kerry Strickland, Jordan’s mother and founder of Jordan’s Hope for Recovery. Sponsors of the rally include Klean Treatment Center, Columbia Memorial Hospital, Free by the Sea, North Coast Recovery and Dairy Queen.

 

Jordan’s Hope for Recovery hosts a website with local resources to help with recovery from addiction and the current epidemic of drug use. See http://www.jordanshope.org/.

 

Kerry says she is “beyond grateful” for the great turnout. “It is wonderful to share with all those who made it possible — the Lions Club, the musicians and support groups.

 

“Jordan’s smiling down, happy to see us moving forward and making a difference in his name.”