Karen and Kevin Fox posing at rest stop # 2 at the HeroInMe Ride.
Kevin Fox, 20, is fighting to stay sober after battling a five-year heroin addiction. He and his mother, Karen, an avid cyclist and former college athlete, participated in Sunday’s HeroInMe Ride that drew 60 cyclists from many parts of Illinois’ DuPage and Will Counties. The bicycle fundraiser supported and raised awareness for those who are either struggling with addiction, in recovery, or who have died from opioid overdose or other substance use disorders (SUD). “The hardest part of my recovery,” said Kevin, “is dealing with my emotions and blocking the cravings.”
Karen is an active member of the recovery community and Kevin has been a patient at the Banyan Treatment Center, in Naperville, which is how she found out about the event. As a lifelong athlete, she loves riding her bicycle and was excited for the chance to do something fun with her son. Kevin said he also enjoys biking with his mother and that he could see himself getting into it more as part of his recovery process. Banyan sponsored the HeroInMe Ride; its patients are the event’s beneficiaries.
In his opening ceremony remarks, Pedal4Life President, Ira David Levy, explained the numerous benefits of cycling for someone recovering from opioid addiction, such as connecting with a healthy community, releasing natural endorphins from exercise, and accessing transportation to support meetings and job interviews. Karen said she feels physical and emotional freedom when biking. “It’s my therapy….Biking allows me to get away from it all and gives me time to pray.” She then broke down in tears. “I’m crying from the pain of it all.”
Dealing with an opioid addiction is extremely difficult, affecting both the individuals with the disease and their families. The longest Kevin has stayed sober during the past five years is five months. After surviving a recent overdose, he’s remained sober for one month. He said that he’d just lost his 16th friend to an opioid overdose a few days prior to the HeroInMe Ride.
To learn more about what you can do to support people like Kevin and Karen, visit Pedal4Life’s website and please consider donating. Kevin, like millions of others, are working tirelessly to stay sober and events like the HeroInMe Ride show them that they’re not alone on their road to recovery.
[Blog post and photo by Katelyn Smith, Pedal4Life]