Local Recovery Organizations Partner to Change Lives by Putting One Foot in Front of the Other

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Heroes in Recovery and women from The Next Door will team up again this month to complete popular Leiper’s Fork 6K.

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They just needed someone to point them in the right direction. Don’t we all? So I continue to show up, rain or shine. I want to be consistent for them in a world that has often proven to be anything but, said Heidi Huerta.

For the past five years, hundreds of people have gathered in Leiper’s Fork, TN to run or walk a 6K course with the purpose of raising awareness for addiction and mental health issues. The race length includes an extra kilometer to symbolize the extra distance people in recovery go to achieve a healthier lifestyle. While the mission itself is a reason for participation, for a group of women from The Next Door, the local charity beneficiary for the race, it has been life changing.

For the past five years, Heroes in Recovery Community Manager Heidi Huerta has volunteered her time in the weeks leading up to the race to train women from The Next Door. Completing a 6K may seem like a small accomplishment to some, but it’s a big step on their road to recovery. It’s the simple act of Huerta and other like-minded runners showing up week after week.

“They just needed someone to point them in the right direction. Don’t we all? So I continue to show up, rain or shine. I want to be consistent for them in a world that has often proven to be anything but,” Huerta said.

Huerta has learned from the women along the way, too. Participants from The Next Door are trying to rebuild their lives, so at first Huerta was gentle with them, thinking they were fragile. What she found was most were strong women — some could even outrun her. They were also open about sharing their personal stories. One went on to finish Nashville’s Country Music Marathon, another went back to school and completed a degree in social work.

As Huerta reflects on her fifth year training with the women, she relishes her role of support and guidance. “They’re learning to pace themselves — in running and in life. Just like me, they’re discovering that sometimes you arrive in the place you were meant to be all along just by putting one foot in front of the other.”

The 2016 Heroes 6K will be held on Saturday, September 10, at 8:00 am and will start and end near downtown Leiper’s Fork. For more information and to register, go to: http://www.heroes6k.com/.

ABOUT HEROES IN RECOVERY:
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 23 million people needed treatment last year and only 3 million sought help. Ten million Americans did not receive needed mental health care. The stigma associated with substance abuse and mental health disorders creates a significant barrier to individuals and families seeking help.

Heroes in Recovery is a grassroots movement intended to remove the social stigma associated with people who are in recovery, to recognize the heroic effort it takes to overcome the obstacles in seeking help, and to celebrate the act of preventing the past from kidnapping the future. While the movement initially focuses on persons recovering from addictive behavior, it is meant also to recognize heroes recovering from many other types of disorders and trauma that can feed or manifest from an addiction.
The Heroes in Recovery 6K races serve as an educational tool for the community as well as a reminder to individuals that while they are on a personal journey of recovery, many others are on that road with them. For more information or to register for any of the Heroes 6K Races, go to HeroesInRecovery6K.com.

ABOUT THE NEXT DOOR:
The Next Door provides physical, emotional, and spiritual rehabilitation for women in need of addiction treatment related to drugs, alcohol, mental illness, trauma, and/or incarceration. The Next Door serves women in crisis equipping them for lives of wholeness and hope for women in the Nashville and Chattanooga area.

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Kaitlin Pickrel