Addicts in recovery turn to running to stay sober

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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - More than a thousand people are expected to take part in the sixth annual re:TH!NK Addiction Run/Walk in Oshkosh on Saturday. Proceeds from the event support local drug and alcohol educational programs as well as recovery centers.

A group with Grateful Runners prepare for the 2019 re:TH!NK Addiction in Oshkosh (WBAY photo)

Final preparations are underway at Solutions Recovery Center, 621 Evans St., in Oshkosh as more than 1,200 people will tackle the 7-, 3- or 1-mile course of the re:TH!NK Addiction Run/Walk. The event helps to raise awareness about the devastating effects of addiction, something organizers say needs to be a topic of discussion.

"It's taking it to the streets. We've got a message and we need to take it to the streets, we need to start looking at this seriously," says race director Gloria West.

While anyone is welcome to participate in the event, it's especially meaningful for participants like Tate Whitlinger.

According to Whitlinger, "I remember when I got out of treatment I ran one mile. It was miserable. I felt like I was going to die. I was in really rough shape, but it did something to me, and that feeling that it gave me, I just kept at it."

Seeing how running helped in his recovery, he says, "I think that whole thing of one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, you know I live my life one day at a time so it all makes sense."

Whitlinger founded Grateful Runners. Every week he along with others in recovery and those who support them take to the streets for a recovery run.

He says, "With Grateful Runners, I get to help other people with this and find what I've found through the spirit of running and have it be a big part of recovery."

And he expects a group of about 30 to 40 "Grateful Runners" to take on the course Saturday with the other participants, adding, "It really is just a ray of hope."

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