Herren Project Ambassadors participate in their own marathon and bring together the Herren Project community in NYC

Herren Project is proud to support an incredible group of civic-minded people dedicated to raising funds and awareness for the mission of Herren Project while bringing positive attention to the disease of addiction. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our Team Herren Project community came together to find creative ways to continue to train for races, host fundraisers, and continue to fight the stigma of substance use disorder. One of those events was “The Burgh in NYC.” What started as one of our Herren Project Ambassador’s dreams to complete her first marathon due to the Pittsburgh Marathon being canceled, became a team of four. In the beauty of what the Herren Project community stands for, three Herren Project teammates joined Christine to support her on her endeavor and foster an amazing community event. Herren Project Ambassador, Christine Hopkins, took some time to reflect on her inspirational experience.

The Burgh in NYC - Ambassadors Running

The Day I Ran my First Marathon

by Christine Hopkins

On May 2nd, 2021, we took to the streets of NYC, starting at Central Park to run 26.2 miles.” The Burgh in NYC” was an unofficial marathon but proved the power of the support, connection, and respect between Herren Project teammates. This race was built on a promise, commitment, innate drive, and grit to “grow good” and promote Herren Project’s mission. We accomplished that and more.

How did The Burgh in NYC come to life?

Well, I hate running. However, I continue to run. I promised Ed Pry and Sean MacMillen I would complete my first marathon with them. I never thought I would “actually” run a marathon. Are you serious? Before I knew it, we had signed up for the 2021 Pittsburgh Marathon, but it had been canceled due to the pandemic. These two sober warriors were not going to let me get out of this one easily. So, we created our own marathon and called it “The Burgh in NYC.” I made a promise, and now I had to follow through and either run, crawl or walk an agonizing 26.2 miles.

Before I knew it, what started out as two Pennsylvania guys and a girl from Boston running together took on a life of its own. The next thing we know, Walt Smith joined the team. Then more teammates jumped on board. Emails and social media posts flooded the team page, “we will see you in NYC!” We started a fundraising page and raised close to $4000 to support programs for the Herren Project.

The Burgh in NYC - Group Celebration

Race Weekend

As teammates arrived on the day before the race, we gathered, with our masks on, of course, in the lobby of a hotel in Long Island City. For many, it was our first time meeting each other. Yet, it was like we had known each other for a lifetime. A few teammates spent the day exploring NYC, sharing a meal, and becoming an instant family. One team member, in particular, Marissa Lopes, drove to NYC from Boston with her two young daughters because she stated, “I wouldn’t miss cheering you on for the world.” Her two daughters were given the opportunity to witness an excellent example of support and recovery.

On race day, we came together as a team. We laughed, cried, sang, and danced our way through Central Park. Some teammates ran, others greeted the runners with hugs. Water was available at self-made aid stations. I still remember our Herren Project “groupies” who stood and cheered underneath the Queensboro Bridge as we crossed it at mile 23. The windswept us sideways. Our legs were fatigued. The American flag flew high and strong.

Each of us came from different places regarding how we have been affected by substance use disorder, but we are all on this journey together. We raised over $4,000 for Herren Project and all of those struggling, an amazing thing considering this event didn’t really exist! All in all, this event proved the power of community, connection, and determination. Herren Project’s work as an organization, from providing accessible family support groups to recovery scholarships, has positively impacted so many people, including every single teammate that is part of Team Herren Project.

The Burgh in NYC - Group Photo at Finish

What is Team Herren Project?

Team Herren Project is an active group of individuals who raise funds and awareness for the mission of Herren Project. Their fundraising through athletic events supports the essential programs that Herren Project provides to individuals, families, schools & communities. There are opportunities to join Team Herren Project and embark on life-changing experiences like Christine’s at the upcoming Falmouth Road Race and many other events! Learn more https://herrenproject.org/team-herren-project/.