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BRATTLEBORO — For three years now, a 5K has been organized by community members who have lived with substance use disorder and found a better way of life.

“We’re showing people with recovery can come together and get organized and put on a fun event that really benefits the whole community,” said Jedediah Popp, race director.

The third annual Run for Recovery 5K starts at 10 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 25. The event is organized by Turning Point Recovery Center of Windham County.

Registration costs $20. Professional runners can be timed. To sign up, visit tinyurl.com/recoveryrunvt.

The 3.1-mile route starts and ends at 100 Flat St. in Brattleboro.

“Runners will run/walk west up Williams Street which is a gradual incline, and then connect along Western Avenue,” states an event description. “The route will then proceed to the east towards downtown Brattleboro, onto Main Street. The route will then turn onto Elliott Street for a very short distance and then down Elm Street, connecting to 100 Flat St.”

Olivia Jean DeWolfe, development and administrative assistant at Turning Point, said the event will follow all state guidelines for the coronavirus. Staggered starts are anticipated to give runners and walkers room, with refreshments served at the end.

DeWolfe is looking for volunteers and can be contacted at 802-816-0006.

Volunteers can assist any time between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Even an hour would be helpful, DeWolfe said, noting that volunteering will get someone a free t-shirt. She described the 5K as an event to bring the community together.

The point also is to reduce stigma.

“We’re calling it ‘Trade in dignity for discrimination,’” Popp said. “There’s so many underlying factors that go on that people don’t see.”

He said those factors can include things out of an individual’s control such as their upbringing and access to health care or food.

“We’re hoping to raise awareness that there’s more to substance use disorder than what people see and that with the right kind of support, a person can find their own individual path to recovery,” he said.

Popp recalled “many organizations and agencies and people” helping to shape his own recovery. Some reached out while he was actively using. He said one never knows when something they say might help someone.

With COVID-19 creating even more barriers these days, the 5K also is aimed at seeking more community support for efforts in the recovery world. Popp said organizations such as Groundworks Collaborative, which helps with housing issues and food insecurity, can be looked at as role models in the community in terms of how to treat individuals with substance use disorder. He believes society is “very quick” to point out negative outcomes of substance use disorder such as drug dealing, theft, violence and overdose deaths.

Popp said the 5K is meant to help show those struggling with substance use that their lives are worthwhile and community support can go a long way.

A new fundraising structure created this year allows people to raise money for Turning Point through their businesses or organizations. Whoever brings in the most for the 5K, Popp said, will receive “bragging rights.”

“It’s just acknowledging that we have some great partners in the community and we want to acknowledge that,” he said.

He said funds will be used for the Windham County Consortium on Substance Use’s efforts in elevating the voices of those most affected by substance use via Turning Point’s storytelling event known as A Beautiful Journey. Any leftover money will go directly to Turning Point projects.

Popp said those interested in joining a weekly fun run can contact him at jedediahpopp@gmail.com. A new Facebook group for the 5K also has been created to share information and drum up support.


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