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Run for Recovery goes virtual July 21-25

Shepherd’s House hopes many will continue to participate in order to fund much needed treatment

The annual Run for Recovery 5K is the biggest fundraising event for the Shepherd’s House, an intensive outpatient program (IOP) for those with the disease of addiction. But how do you hold an event like this during the time of COVID-19, when there have been more than 1,600 who traditionally participate?

“We have a virtual 5K,” says Roger Fox, director of outreach for Shepherd’s House. “This is what allows us to keep our doors open … When I’m in Boyle County court, and we need to get somebody into treatment, I can call Shepherd’s House and get someone in there without them having a dollar in their pocket.”

They work with people to get them out of jail, into the treatment for the disease of addiction, Fox says. “We know they don’t have housing, so we can put them up in Lexington for a while,” he says, referring to the residential center there. “It allows them to get stable, get them on their feet.”

Fox, who did a stint in prison for drug-related charges, says he knows all too well what it’s like, getting released from jail or prison and not having anywhere to go. He has been a free man since May 1, 2015, and after working his way through treatment at Shepherd’s House, came on as an employee.

“So, because of that race, those doors were open to me. I really contribute a lot of the way my life has changed to Shepherd’s House,” he says, and he wants to be able to continue helping others.

Fox says they have worked really hard over the last several years, building the race into something bigger and better than it was the year before — this will be the 21st annual race. In the last few years, he says it’s grown from what first began as 700 people to more than 1,600 last year. “This year, we planned it to exceed 2,000, then COVID hit.”

Not to mention, he says they began seeing funding being reduced in certain places. Extended Social Resource grants are being reduced, which Fox says allows the center to pay for staff.

“The problem with addiction, it doesn’t stop for COVID …” Fox says, or budget shortfalls due to lack of funding. “And treatment doesn’t stop because of COVID. We have to continue, and find creative ways to keep those doors open.”

He says truthfully, he knows everybody’s struggling during the pandemic, especially those who are battling addiction. “That worries me, that was our big decision in going virtual.”

Fox says even though the race isn’t held until near the end of July, “but how do we feel about having 1,500 or 2,000 people together at Keeneland. We knew people wouldn’t feel comfortable, everybody’s still scared. We understand that, and we want to do what’s right for everyone.”

He says he’s looking at the virtual 5K positively.

“This is an opportunity for us to engage people from all over the state, not just Lexigton or surrounding counties, or only Danville. To reach out and show people the mission of Shepherd’s House.”

How to participate 

Anyone can register for the Run for Recovery 5K, which will happen over the span of July 21-25, by visiting R4Rky.com.

The registration costs $35, which includes a “special COVID-themed t-shirt,” Fox says. “It’s pretty cool, something to remember this odd year by.”

And then, from July 21-25, Fox says participants can pick when they run and where. “You can do it on that Thursday evening, can go out and run your 5K or walk it, or any day up through the 25th.”

By registering your information, runners and walkers will be able to track their time and where it was run, “which is also pretty cool. It logs you into a system (once registered), which makes it still competitive, just like always. But you can participate at your own pace and at your own place, whenever you want to do it for those days.”

The mission of Shepherd’s House, Fox says, is beneficial to every community. “And we serve a lot from Boyle. We want to continue to be able to do that, not in a manner that we’re charging people a lot of money. They don’t have to worry about ‘how am I going to afford treatment,’ because this race keeps our door open. I hope people will help us do that.”

Aside from its long-term transitional recovery housing treatment program in Lexington, for men 18 years of age and older, and the IOP here in Danville, Shepherd’s House also manages five correctional facility programs in Boyle, Fayette and Grant counties. The programs are structured to promote personal responsibility and accountability.