5K for Freedom

5K for Freedom
Posted on 09/28/2020
5K for Freedom5K for Freedom: Running to Help Put an End to the Opioid Epidemic
Alexis Stakem
Staff Writer
[email protected]

Break the Silence Team: Rebecca VanSteenacker, Maddie Caine, Anike Heller (president), Parinita Mithepati, Luke Leardi, Mark Chambers, and Jordan Shopp (the list goes left to right); all were juniors at the time the photo was taken, but are now seniors.

Last year, then junior Anike Heller created Break the Silence, a club aimed at starting an honest conversation amongst her peers about the severity of substance abuse and the opioid epidemic.

One of their main projects, organizing the 5K for Freedom, takes on the task of educating
families about where to find help and further destigmatizing drug addiction, while also raising
money for Sara’s House of Hope.

“Sara’s House of Hope is an amazing organization that provides support systems to those recently recovering from addiction, and the money we raise will help them continue to do so, because it goes towards building Transition Homes for those who need long term housing as a part of their recovery journey,” Co-President Heller said.

Their first 5K, hosted last year at Cumberland Valley High School, was met with an amazing turnout with 72 runners and totaling 2500 dollars in donations.

“Overall, I am extremely grateful that we were able start educating families and students about the consequences of substance abuse and begin, or help in anyway, to break the stigma around addiction, as without these difficult conversations the opioid addiction will continue thrive and affect thousands of innocent lives,” junior and Co-President Niya Chagantipati said.

“And it was because of our runners that we were able to help Sara’s House of Hope continue its mission of rehabilitating those overcoming addiction,” senior Mark Chambers said.

“Which is why it is crucial we work not only to raise money, but to make information regarding rehabilitation easily accessible; we have to stop shaming those who need help, or attempting to pretend the issue does not exist at all. If we continue to allow this notion that seeking help is shameful to persist in our society, too many people will be forced to needlessly suffer,” Heller

With the success of their last event, Break the Silence hoped to have an even greater impact the
 ollowing year, and while COVID-19 has posed unprecedented challenges, Heller is confident in
their abilities to organize an incredibly prosperous 5K, all while practicing the necessary safety measures.

“COVID-19 has definitely made planning the 5K more difficult than the previous year, particularly in terms of making sure everyone stays hydrated and has access to food. However, by providing individually packaged food items and bottled water, we are going to be able to keep
everyone hydrated and healthy. We will also be requiring masks, if it is not possible to social distance, and staff and organization representatives will be required to wear masks regardless,” Heller said.

Break the Silence’s 2020 5K for Freedom will take place on Saturday, October 31st from 9:30  to 11:30 at West Shore Free Church. Those who register prior to October 17th will pay an early bird registration fee of 25 dollars, while those register afterwards pay 35 dollars.

Registration is open until the start of the event. Break the Silence encourages all to come and participate in the 5K for Freedom.

“People should absolutely come and be a part of the 5K because the more people who participate, the greater the impact our event will have on the community. That means more young people, our peers, friends, and family, will be exposed to the severity of substance abuse and the
opioid epidemic. They will be educated about recovery and rehabilitation, and that could be instrumental in saving their lives, or the lives of their loved ones,” senior Rebecca Vansteenacker said.

“I hope people will come out and join us, so we can start making a difference in the hearts of our community and break down the barriers that surround the discussion of addiction, in order to have real conversations, and break the silence,” Heller said.
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