Blog Post – Heroes in Recovery 6K

Ashleigh Rakestraw

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”
John Bingham, running speaker and writer

The Next Door staff pictured at the Heroes in Recovery 6K

It was a perfect fall morning last Saturday, September 9th.  A crisp breeze was blowing and by 7:45 am the anticipation of the crowd began to rise as runners and walkers lined up at the start line to begin a 6K up the hills of Liepers Fork, TN. I stood next to a TND client whose excitement shone all across her face as she held a sign cheering on the participants that stated, “We are all winners!” I’ve run a lot of races in recent years, but none get me as excited and emotional as the Heroes in Recovery 6K every fall. The Next Door is fortunate to have been selected as the charity beneficiary for the race, and we are so thankful to Heroes in Recovery for making that happen. However, the race means so much more to The Next Door and our clients than the funds it provides us. This race allowed for The Next Door clients to engage in sober fun – something many of them have never experienced in their adult life, a chance to be surrounded by a community in Nashville that is supportive of recovery and most importantly, courage to continue facing the challenges ahead and be overcomers.

As I watched our clients, many just a week or two sober, I felt overwhelmed with pride that they had the courage to complete this 6K.  The sixth kilometer of this race separates it from a typical 5K to symbolize the extra effort it takes to sustain recovery. I watched the clients throughout the race, each one either panting or drenched in sweat, but determined to finish. Along the race, I stopped to ask a client if she felt strong enough to finish, her reply: “Yes, I’ll be fine. Whatever it takes.” Oprah Winfrey once said, “Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.” These clients put everything they had that morning into finishing that race. And they did! Each one proudly crossed the finish line and received their medal.

Once the race was done, we packed up and went back to TND, dedication and determination in hand. You see, dedication and determination aren’t just things they brought with them to help them cross the finish line that morning- it’s something they carry inside them- and it grows every day. They are training for a race of their own- this marathon called life. And they are doing it completely sober, ready to take on the potholes, hills and blisters that come with it. Some days their journey will have beautiful weather and they can do it with air in their lungs and sunshine on their face; other times, it will be less easy and they will fall, drenched in sweat, pushing themselves to simply take the next step. Regardless of how the journey looks, I’m more confident than ever that they can do it. They have exactly what it takes to be winners: it’s been inside them all along, they just needed the courage to start.

Ashleigh Rakestraw serves as the Clinical Services Program Manager at The Next Door.

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