Week 3: THP RUNS
THP RUNS engages people from across the country to run, walk, and participate in healthy activities, for, and with, The Herren Project. We are family of people who help each other, and others, live stronger, healthier lives while we work to promote the power of recovery.
The concept of the THP RUNS initiative began with 3 people, including Chris Herren, running the 2014 Boston Marathon. Since that day, more than 250 people have participated in one or more running/walking events, raising more than $300,000, and unmeasured awareness for the transformational work of The Herren Project and its cause.
The THP RUNS family is an inclusive group, including those in recovery, those with loved ones in recovery, those with loved ones still suffering, and those who have lost someone to the disease.
I’d love to work myself out of a job. But until that day, people like Patrick, The Kubalas, the McNamaras, and every single person who has connected to us through THP RUNS, fills my heart with hope. We are a group of healing people, helping people heal. We simply meet people where they are and learn and grow together, every single day. We run and train and accomplish goals together, but the running is the icing on the cake of what really matters. The relationships and life-long friendships formed create a ripple effect of good, and provides us all with the powerful gift of knowing we’re not alone in this. – Pam Rickard, THP RUNS Director
Patrick Montgomery contacted The Herren Project shortly after he lost his lifelong best friend, Spencer Kubala, to a heroin overdose. Patrick and The Kubala family wanted to honor Spencer’s memory and life by helping others through the work of The Herren Project.
Patrick Montgomery recently shared, “After losing my life-long best friend, Spencer, to his battle with addiction in January of 2016 one memory was stuck in my mind. It was not the memories of our countless walks to the local pool, late nights of laughing at sleepovers or traveling all over the state playing basketball together. The fondest memory I have of Spencer took place during my last few months with him; when he shared with me his goal of helping others fight addiction by working with foundations like The Herren Project.
Having been so close to Spencer throughout the duration of his struggle with addiction, seeing how passionate he was about making sure others did not have to feel what he felt was an eye opening experience for me. More importantly, I can truly say that knowing, after everything he’d been through, his main goal was to help other people was the proudest he could have ever made me. About two weeks after losing Spencer I was up late one night reflecting on our friendship and what I could do to possibly help honor his memory in a way he would want.
A short time later I sat down with his family and we created the Pursuit of Happiness. This is a group of people close to Spencer and his family that are raising both money and awareness for The Herren Project, to help others fighting those battles, in Spencer’s name. Spencer may not be here to carry out his dreams in person, but don’t think for one second the manner in which he lived isn’t the reason so many in our community have been inspired to take on this fight for him.”
Jackie Kubala, Spencer’s mother shares, “About a year ago, my son called to tell me that he was so disappointed because Chris Herren was speaking at his college and he couldn’t get in to hear him because it was full. Spencer watched Chris’s story on TV and was so moved by his spirit. He talked about Chris often and wanted to do similar work and meet Chris someday. Unfortunately, Spencer relapsed and died from an overdose on January 15, 2016. Spencer had a heart of gold and touched so many people in his short time here on earth, hopefully in his passing he will touch many more.
Heartbroken that our 22 year old who was amazing in so many ways was gone, we knew that we needed to carry on what Spencer always wanted to accomplish. We contacted THP and everyone was extremely helpful and kind. Chris actually spoke in our hometown and we were fortunate to meet and speak with him. We felt Spencer’s presence so strongly at this meeting. Chris’s message is powerful and every young adult should hear it. Our family and Spencer’s friends are working together with THP to organize a run and to also raise funds in our area to support THP.
We hope to help prevent others from losing a piece of their heart. We also feel that had we known about THP when Spencer first came to us and asked for help, we would have gotten so much support and valuable guidance that we did not get locally. No one seemed to know where to send Spencer or how to help and when we did find places, they were all filled. We finally got him outpatient treatment in his college town because it was recommended and it failed to give Spencer the help he needed. This is where THP could have been so helpful had we known about them, so we are committed to helping THP. ”
The THP family met John and Lisa McNamara at the 2014 NYC Marathon. An instant connection and friendship was formed, leading to both John and Lisa signing up to run the 2015 Shamrock Half Marathon with THP RUNS. Since that day, MANY of the McNamara’s family members have been involved in THP/THP RUNS events, with Lisa herself running the Shamrock Half, the Boston Marathon, the Hamptons Marathon, the Badwater Cape Fear 50k, the B.A.A. 5k and the 2016 NYC Marathon, all with and for THP! The McNamaras have been invaluable advocates for the work of THP and for recovery as a whole.
We recently received these heart-felt notes from John and Lisa:
John McNamara – October 9, 2011, a baby shower was held for our daughter Kaitlin in CT. The following day, 10/10/11, Lisa began her amazing sober journey. In those initial dark and scary days I alternated between questioning God and begging Him for help. Addiction is a disease that has been swept under the rugs for generations and unfortunately still is. Early on in Lisa’s recovery she found running to be a great physical and emotional outlet.
Several years ago she had the good fortune to cross paths with another amazing lady, Pam Rickard. It was Pam that introduced Lisa and my entire family to The Herren Project and THP Runs. Initially I saw The Herren Project as a nice organization that would help my wife in her recovery. To be honest, that is all I saw. Wow did I underestimate the value of this incredible group of human beings. I’m proud to say that in addition to Lisa, our children and their spouses/significant others have run events while raising money for and awareness of The Herren Project. THP helped my family see that recovery is both possible and real!
As proud of we all are of Lisa’s accomplishments on and off the running circuit, we are even prouder of the fact she has become a true source of knowledge, guidance and direction to others who are fighting the disease called addiction. She has received cries for help because her story is out there for all to see. Through the THP family she has grown stronger and more confident and willing to “tell all” so that others might find the helping hand she did 4 ½ years ago. Old friends and new and most recently a family member have sought Lisa’s hand. The responsiveness of THP has been nothing short of amazing when Lisa turned to them for help.
In closing, let me just say I consider myself and my extended family beyond blessed to have been “adopted” by The Herren Project family. May this organization continue to grow in number until there are more THP members than there are those fighting addiction. A lofty goal, but one worth pursuing! President Kennedy challenged America to send men to the moon and back, “Not because it is easy but because it is hard”. Those words ring true for today’s challenge before us all, the horrible addiction epidemic. I have faith that with organizations like THP comprised of such selfless, dedicated, inspired individuals, the war can be won.
Lisa McNamara – I was a mess just 4 ½ years ago. Quite frankly I was on a steady spiral towards my death. I went to rehab knowing this was my last chance. I started to run there, honestly just wanting to run away from everything. I ran with a few new friends almost daily. Shane Campbell was one of those friends. On one of our runs he said “one day we should run a marathon together!” Tragically, before we could keep that marathon promise, Shane lost his battle to this damn disease. Shane’s passing opened my eyes to see that we only have today, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. I had to do something, so I ran the New York Marathon and dedicated it to Shane.
It was in Manhattan prior to the marathon when Pam introduced me to The Herren Project. I felt like this is where I belong right from the beginning. Over the last few years they have become my extended family and I have had the honor of running additional races for them since. What I love is that we all have one thing in common: The burning desire to help anyone that is caught in the web of this dreadful disease called addiction.
Some folks have asked why I would want to tell everyone my dirty secret. First I wasn’t sure. I felt like I was naked for the entire world to see! But hey I didn’t want this disease & I definitely wasn’t standing in line yelling “pick me I want that gene please!” I decided that if my showing others it is okay to ask for help can help one person then it’s a victory and worth forgoing my privacy.
Reinforcing my decision to go public with my disease, quite recently my own niece called me desperately looking for help. She found her son unresponsive on her couch from a heroin overdose and only by the grace of God was he was brought back to us. Let me tell you, the folks at The Herren Project were amazing with their outpouring of love & support! But they didn’t stop with platitudes and consoling messages. They proved that in this battle against addiction they are “in it to win it”! They dug in and immediately helped my niece navigate through the maze-like process of getting her son into a rehab. He’s still there living in a sober living facility and doing great, one day at a time.
The Herren Project was there to give my niece and her son the direction and support they so desperately needed. In his honor I plan to again run the New York Marathon with the Herren Project in the fall with the main focus being HOPE. I truly want anyone that’s still out there struggling in silence to know they are not alone and that there’s always HOPE.
THANK YOU to all the people at the Herren Project for letting me be a part of this fantastic family. We will never give up helping and hoping!