FCwNCADD Gala 2019

It was a fantastic night for an all-out party at the Rainbow Room in the center of downtown Manhattan. A widely diverse group of people came together to honor the sobriety and contribution to society of one man while working together to support solutions to one of the most devastating public health disasters in our history. It may appear to be an odd juxtaposition of missions to those who are not familiar with the world of recovery, sobriety, and prevention. Our world does seem to be one of extremes; we celebrate the successes and survivors with abandon and morn the losses with broken hearts.  That is the way we live our lives and the way we do our work.

I am the Executive Director of a small, nonprofit prevention agency in rural, upstate New York. My agency, LEAF, Inc., is an affiliate of Facing Addiction with NCADD (FAwNCADD) in a large agricultural county with a very sparse population. I also have the honor and pleasure of being on the Board of Directors of FAwNCADD as one of four Affiliate Representatives. So, this night, this event, was surreal to me. I am a bona fide country girl who found herself in a place that is about as “uptown” as one can get.

As a person in long term recovery who appreciates the “we’re all in this together” mentality of my recovering peers, I try very hard to remain unaffected by celebrities in recovery.  I do understand that there are times that celebrities just need to be my peer, not my superstar. I will admit, I thought that this night was going to challenge me in the composure department. I was teen in the 70’s and 80’s. The Eagles were “my” band. The Beatles were rock royalty. Joe Walsh and Ringo Starr were going to be at the event, along with a variety of other wonderfully talented people who had decided to come and help us celebrate and support the cause.

Facing Addiction honors rock legends

We settled in for dinner and the program, and the focus for our evening became clear. Speaker after speaker got up to share their stories of addiction tragedy or survival, or both. And as the night rose to its pinnacle event, we had the immense pleasure of getting to hear Ringo Starr and Joe Walsh talk about their journeys to recovery. They spoke with humility, grace, and an excellent sense of humor. Ringo presented Joe with the Humanitarian Award for his contribution to the recovery movement and people in recovery. The room erupted in cheers. And just as our spirits were lifted by the joy of these rockers, the music began and we celebrated. Okay, I’ll admit it… when Joe Walsh played “Life in the Fast Lane” with Vince Gil and Paul Schaffer; I just had to be a fan girl.

I deeply relish being involved as the Director of a local Affiliate of FAwNCADD and as a Board member of FAwNCADD. It is the only National organization that I am aware of that has a focus on prevention, treatment and recovery, the full spectrum of addiction care. I am grateful that there are celebrities that will use their voice and their influence for the cause. And, as a preventionist, I work for the day that we will no longer need “a cause,” a day where healthy sobriety will be the default choice rather than the alternative choice. Until then; Mr. Joe Walsh, Sir Ringo Starr – Keep on rockin’ your sobriety and keep on rockin’ the recovery world with your talent, your stories and your grace.

For further reading:

The Rolling Stone: “Joe Walsh, Ringo Starr and the Mission to End America’s Addiction Crisis”, by Sarah Grant

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