The Richland County Opiate Review Board recently indicated that in the past seven months, overdoses have increased by 32.12% and overdose deaths have increased by 43.48%.

National Recovery Month gives those who’ve struggled or who’ve watched someone else struggle time to reflect and refocus their goals. It’s also a month of educating those unaware of the effects of substance abuse, and the mental health services available to them. 

For this year’s recovery month, Catalyst Life Services has used the opportunity to spread awareness and double down on their efforts to help those in need with their “Agents of Change” virtual run/walk. 

Matt McClester, field representative for BAC Local 40, has been in recovery for 16 years after an 18 year battle with addiction. As someone so personally affected by the opioid epidemic, he’s constantly looking for ways to be involved and give back to services such as Catalyst that have helped him in the past. 

“I’ve dealt with this in one way or another,” McClester said. “Part of recovery is that trying to help other people actually helps yourself. And that’s what I try to do today. (The Recovery Run) is definitely near and dear to my heart.” 

Members of the Brick Layers Union meet every month to sponsor different events. McClester personally requested that they sponsor Catalyst Life Services in September and received no pushback. He recruited four of his coworkers to join his team “The Brickees” and they all walk during different times of the day to complete their goal. 

“I thought (the Recovery Run) was a great idea as a type of fundraiser, especially during COVID where you can’t necessarily get together as a group of people,” McClester said. “Most of the guys know me, so they know when I ask for something like this that it’s kind of personal too.”

Winners will be announced on Sept. 30 on Facebook Live at noon, however the fundraiser has been extended until Oct. 14. Individuals or teams have until then to register for either a one mile walk or 5K run. Those who register will receive a t-shirt and sign, which they can post photos of themselves wearing to show their support.

A grand prize will be given out to the person who completes the 5K the fastest. They must submit their results by taking a screenshot from any free running app. Weekly drawings with various different prizes are given out as well. 

Scott Drozda, president of New Day Creative, took part in the run as well as someone who’s lost many friends and family members to drug and alcohol addiction. This month the Recovery Run helps him get out of bed to run every day. 

“I always think about “what if” (his loved ones) had one more chance? What lives could they have affected for the better?” he said. 

Drozda’s “Mansfield Misfits” is made up of a sober group of nine people who’ve already completed the virtual 5K. Their motivation for doing the run came easy since they’ve all been affected by drug and alcohol addiction in some manner, according to Drozda. 

Through supporting organizations that help others in overcoming drug and alcohol issues, Drozda believes it will be a key factor to improving society. 

“Many of us have lost loved ones to addictions in one form or another. Many lives are impacted negatively by addiction. Recovery offers a solution to one of the most pressing problems facing communities today,” Drozda said. 

To register or get involved with “Agents of Change,” visit

The Life & Culture section is powered by University Hospitals Samaritan Medical Center.

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