About 125 runners and walkers laced up their shoes for the second annual Run for Recovery to raise awareness for Welcome Home Addiction Recovery Society in Newton on Sunday.
"We call it a therapeutic community," said Gabrielle Steed, an employee of Welcome Home. "It's a long-term residential addiction recovery program."
The participants, as well as friends and family, gathered in the parking lot of Price Pro on King George Boulevard for the five- and 10-kilometre route through Surrey.
The opening ceremonies started at 9 a.m. and the event ran through the afternoon with a friendly atmosphere, good food and spectacular concert performances. The Surrey fire department sounded the siren to kick off the race at the starting line at 135th Street and 68th Avenue.
The event promised a day of fun, and it delivered, bringing out crafts, facepainting, a henna artist, a dunk tank, a bouncy castle and a 20-foot-long barbecue.
"It was a huge community event," said Steed, rattling off the list of 15 activities.
The society gave out free food, including smokies, corn on the cob and soda. While the event wasn't a fundraiser, they did accept donations at the food tent, though they had not tallied up the total by press time.
The event showcased live music by pop-rock cover band March Hare, alternative power-poppers Danny Echo, local songstress Alexandria Maillot and 15-year-old Nanaimo singer Mikaila Tombe, accompanied by keyboardist Nico Rhodes.
Welcome Home houses about 30 drug and alcohol addicts between the ages of 19 and 34, with each of them signing up for commitment to get clean. The program also helps them develop skills to enter the working world in such fields as accounting, woodworking, computer technology, warehousing, sales and culinary arts.
"The men and women live here for a minimum of two years," said Steed, noting that it can be challenging for some to stick with the program.
In addition to the house on King George Boulevard, the society has another house in Seattle that also takes in about 30 addicts. The Newton location is currently at capacity, but it is expanding.
"We are building a lot next door with a gymnasium and dormitory, so we'll be able to fit a lot more," said Steed.
The society hopes to continue the Run for Recovery as an annual event to show those in need of treatment that there is help available.
"It was more successful than last time, and next time will be more successful," said Welcome Home founder John Volken. "We're saving lives and that's what it's all about."
For more information about the society, call 604-592-2050 or visit welcomehomesociety.org.
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