On October 4, 2015, tens of thousands of Americans joined together for the first-ever rally and concert on the National Mall to raise awareness about addiction. Joe Walsh, Steven Tyler, Sheryl Crow and many others performed. The Surgeon General announced the country’s first ever report on addiction. CARITAS staff members, clients, volunteers, and community partners took the ride to Washington, D.C. to take part in this important event. Todd Weatherless, a Healing Place alumni and CARITAS Americorps service member, wrote down his reflections:
The United to Face Addiction held on 10/4/15 in Washington D.C. was one of the highlights of my recovery to date. It was an honor and a privilege to stand among so many people just like myself, and some who were not, and break the silence that surrounds the disease of alcoholism and addiction. And although we were there to rally in support of our cause and bring a sense of urgency that is needed to combat this deadly disease, it was a somber time, as well, seeing all those we have lost and how their families have been affected. They told me when I got sober that I was not the only one who had been suffering in my illness. Others had been affected, too. And that moment became a reality to me on Sunday. I never want to put my family members or loved ones through the pain and misery that came with my drinking and drug use again. Today, by the grace and mercy of God, I have a daily reprieve—one more chance to get it right with just ONE day at a time.
Not only was my spirit rejuvenated by this experience, I was entertained as well. Great acts like The Fray, Sheryl Crow, and Jason Isbell were there to perform. And the one and only Steven Tyler blessed us as the rally closed with a historic performance that I’ll be able tell my grandchildren about when they get older and have an “understanding” of the previous generation’s music. It was also great to learn that so many politicians and influential people are stepping up and taking ownership of the problem. To know that the Surgeon General of the United States is in the process of publishing a report on addiction, very similar to the one released about cigarettes years ago, shows the progress that we’ve made and the distance that we still have to go.
I’m truly grateful today for the opportunities that have been placed at my feet and for the chance to stand beside some incredible people, to try and make a difference today. For years, I lost sight of what was truly important in life. Sunday reminded me, that I just need to live to be alive, and that means being present, willing to help to next person, and ultimately staying sober.