Jennifer here, founder of the Dragonolia community. This next story is near and dear to my heart. In fact, without Glen, I’m not sure we’d even be here. I’ll keep this short, so I don’t take away from his beautiful story but let me tell you how we met.
At the beginning of 2020, I had started on this journey to change my life. Quitting alcohol for the entire year and beginning to run were my two main commitments. In February of 2020, I just so happened to stumble upon Glen’s post in a Facebook group with almost 200,000 members called Running Motivation. In other words, the mere fact that I saw his post that day was a meant-to-be moment in time. What captured my attention most was that he resembled my youngest brother Justin, just enough so that I stopped scrolling to read his post. What I read next, that he was a recovering heroin addict, resonated so profoundly that I reached out privately to ask if I could share his story in my sobriety challenge group.
Not only did Glen respond to me right away, but he also took that next step that would prove to be pivotal; he introduced me to Herren Project. Had he not done that, I may have never met this incredible team I run with and now call family. Had I not started fundraising for Herren Project, I may have never created Dragonolia coffee, a vehicle to raise money and give back in my brother Justin’s name. And had I not done that, we wouldn’t be here.
The first time I met Glen in person was at my very first half marathon, a race he encouraged me to sign up for since he and a few other teammates I had yet to meet would be there as well. This picture of us is from that finish line, and it will always be one of my favorites. For as long as I live, I will never forget turning the corner for the final block of those 13.1 miles. Though I had never met him, I knew his face. Seeing him standing there with one block to go, hand-stretched out for the greatest low five of all time, was a moment I will never, ever forget. When I finally crossed the finish, which he was there to videotape, I wrapped him up in a hug and sobbed.
Glen, you are such an inspiration to me and so many others. Thank you for being my teammate and soul brother. I am forever grateful for that day I mindlessly scrolled, found you, and that low five, which will always be a highlight of my life.
I come from a loving home. Father, mother, big sister, and myself. I come from a home that suffered from substance use disorder. I am the only one that used but man my whole family suffered from my disease.
As I sit down to write this piece memories are flooding back to me. One that stands out is from my first medical detox. I was 20 years old, and my parents came up to meet with me and my case worker. He told my parents that one day I might stand up at a podium and say, “My name is Glen and I’m and addict or alcoholic’. I scoffed at the idea, but my parents wept at the thought. That’s the stigma that comes with this disease. That being and addict or alcoholic is something to be ashamed of. That detox stay was the first of many. By 21 I was a hopeless IV drug user. I bounce around from all types of treatment facilities, detoxes, holdings, halfway houses, homeless shelter, and rehabs were a constant but always the same result. A short run of sobriety and then a relapse. I overdosed multiple times but on Sept 1, 2008, I overdosed for the last time. When I woke up, I did something I hadn’t ever done before. I went outside and fell to my knees, I looked to the sky, and I asked for help. I didn’t know who I was asking but I knew I didn’t want to live the way I was anymore. I went back to treatment, and I surrounded myself with guys who were living the way I wanted to. I did what they did and went where they went. Slowly but surely days, turned to weeks, weeks turned to months, and months turned to years. That overdose on September 1, 2008, is the last time I consumed drugs or alcohol.
My life has literally gotten better every day since. My goals when I entered recovery were to get a car, cell phone, and still be able to afford cigarettes ever day. I was selling myself short. In 2013 I married the woman of my dreams. In 2014 we had our first daughter, and in 2017 we had our second daughter. My relationship with my parents and sister were restored. I have stood at hundreds of podiums and introduced myself as an addict and/or alcoholic and it has saved my life and made my families lives much better too.
In 2017 I took up running to lose some sympathy weight I put on during our 2 pregnancies. I was soon connected to Team Herren Project. An organization that helps individuals and families fight substance use disorder. I was no runner, but I was so inspired by this group and the support people were showing me. What started off as a 5k to raise $500 turned into running races all over the world and raising tens of thousands of dollars. I’m now a brand ambassador for Herren Project and have run 5 of the 6 world majors. My goal is to run all 6 and show that not only is recovery possible but also people in recovery can do extraordinary things. I want to remove the stigma that comes with substance use disorder, give hope to those who struggle, and honor the many who have passed away.
If someone approached me back in 2008 and told me that in 2022 you will be a 40-year-old husband, father of 2, and you’ll be running marathons I would have said you’re crazy. Fact of the matter is I am, and I still do the same thing every day since I entered recovery. I look up to the sky and ask for help and at the end of every day I look up to the sky and say thank you.