By Noell Wolfgram Evans
F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote “There are no second acts in American lives.”
While his intent behind the line is lost to time, there is no denying that for some, a second chance is all that they wish for.
Westside residents gathered together on Sept. 17 to celebrate those who are currently in recovery from addiction.
“Recovery is Possible,” billed as a celebration of life after addiction, was held at Franklin Heights High School. It provided an opportunity for those in recovery to share their second acts and to showcase resources to those about to start theirs.
Joey Moats spoke passionately about his struggle.
“I really tried. I tried,” he said before sharing that his attempts at going sober never lasted.
Finally, at a low point, Moats had an encounter.
“I don’t remember what this man said,” he shared, “but he made me cry and I knew it would be OK.”
That was six years ago and he proudly reports that he’s been sober ever since.
Ben Lacey also spoke with enthusiasm.
“I am excited about recovery. I’m excited about being 28 years clean this past Monday,” he said.
A point that received prolonged applause from those in attendance. Lacey also expressed gratitude for those who have helped him across the years, some of whom were represented there.
In addition to a roster of speakers, several area agencies had a presence at the event. SMARTRecovery, Breaking Point Recovery Center, The Ohio ACBHA, and Narcotics Anonymous were just some of those on hand to provide information and encouragement.
This was a celebration of course and what’s a celebration without balloons? Helium balloons, symbolic of the uplifting nature of the event, waved gently back and forth as those in attendance helped themselves to cake, cookies, and other treats as they listened to the speakers, registered for a door prize, or signed The Book.
The Book was a leather covered journal embossed with Carpe Diem, Latin for Seize the Day. Those in attendance were asked to sign in with just initials and a date. Not the date of the event though, but the time that they have been in recovery. Those numbers were shared later as a mark of inspiration and pride.
The longest time span was over 35 years, the shortest was nine months, and there were dozens of dates in between.
While there was love and support shown for those in recovery, time was made to honor two men who’ve worked hard to help those who’ve struggled with addiction.
Columbus firefighter Justin Kuhel and Edward Chung of the Columbus Police Department were presented with awards on behalf of Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine for their efforts in combating addiction, particularly for residents on the Westside. Combined, the two have saved over 60 lives by administering narcan and naloxone.
If there was a prevailing theme to the afternoon it was one of togetherness.
“It’s gonna take us to change this world,” said Moats.