Hiking Appalachian Trail to Raise Recovery Awareness
Sobriety is no walk in the park, but then again some people do just that as part of their efforts to stay sober and active in their recovery, and one man has done a little more than the average afternoon stroll in regards to making a difference in the recovery community.
One man from Connecticut named Phil Valentine has made huge strides trying to move toward change. Valentine is in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, not to mention the little detail that he also BEAT CANCER, and has decided to use his story and one of his passions to inspire others in the same struggles. Recently Phil Valentine decided to hike 2,200 miles through the Appalachian Trail to raise awareness about both drug and alcohol addiction and cancer, and now we are sharing some of that journey with you.
Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery
Valentine is the executive director of the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery(CCAR), an organization that strives for organizing the recovery community, including people in recovery, family members, friends and allies to achieve goals for those struggling with drugs and alcohol. According to their mission statement, their primary goals are to:
- Put a face on recovery
- Provide recovery support services
The organization also works to promote recovery from alcohol and other drug addiction through advocacy, education and service.
Walking the Dream
Valentine himself has been sober for 27 years, and for this massive feat he started off the trip on March 19, actually 5 years to the day after he was diagnosed with stage four tongue cancer. Valentine says now that the concept for this hike initially came to him in a dream, stating:
“It was really a calling, as I was healing from the treatment from cancer, to walk the Appalachian Trail, and my first response was, ‘The whole thing?’ And it was. ‘Yes,’”
That’s right. To hike the entire Appalachian trail! My dreams barely want me to climb out of bed in the morning.
The goal for completing the hike he says was to bring attention to recovery from drug and alcohol addiction and cancer, raising awareness for those who remain unaware of the elements of these health issues. Also he hoped to provide some hope for those who still suffered.
At the time of a recent interview it was noted that over the course of 5 months Valentine had walked 1747.1 miles, and he was already amazed at what had been accomplished. Since starting out the trip seems to have done some serious good for Valentine’s health too. He has actually lost 50 pounds through the process, and no longer needs blood pressure or cholesterol medications.
The Journey of Recovery
This journey has been about a lot for Valentine, and has ultimately tested him in more ways than one, but he has built an amazing life for himself after kicking his addictions to cocaine and alcohol 27 years ago, including getting married, and had 5 kids, and overcoming his cancer.
There are all types of awesome stories like Valentine’s that are based on individuals or groups rallying together to overcome challenges in an attempt to raise awareness toward issues with addiction, and Valentine isn’t the only one taking a few extra steps. Others have organized walks, marches and athletic events to focus on recovery from addiction.
The CCAR organization actually hosts an annual walk which in the past has boasted over 1,000 attendees and featured guest speakers. This walk may not me the estimated 5,000,000 steps Phil Valentine is suggested to be making in his hike, but it is still an interesting way the group plans to take action and give back.
To follow the last leg of Valentine’s journey, you can keep track as he posts updates via photos and videos on social media. You can search it using the tag #AT4recovery.
Not everyone will choose to climb mountains and hike thousands of miles to raise awareness for recovery, but we all have the capacity to create awesome lives in recovery and provider inspiration and experience to share. No matter what path you take to recovery, every journey begins with the first step. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588.