March Against Addiction this weekend!

Staff Writer Kate Wehlann

Walkers near the end of last year's March Against Addiction.

Ask around and almost everyone has been touched by addiction in one way or another. A friend or family member may have fought (or are fighting) addiction, maybe you work with someone. Teachers across the county have taught children raised by addicted persons or were taken from their parents because their parents were using drugs. Some children were born addicted to one drug or another and fought the first few days, weeks, maybe longer of their lives to get clean from something they never chose.

Maybe the drug isn’t illegal — maybe it’s an addiction to alcohol or tobacco/nicotine. Maybe it’s food or shopping or gambling, sex or social media.

Organizers of the second annual March Against Addiction, which will be held Saturday, May 18, from 8 to around 10:30 a.m., understand managing addiction or coping with addiction in those close to you is rarely as simple as it sounds. That’s why they hope events like their upcoming march and race will help those impacted carry the weight together.

The March Against Addiction is partnering with the Indiana National Guard this year to stand up against addiction and the opioid epidemic in the community. The National Guard will provide the first 45 people who register, and would like to, the chance to march or even run the 5K with a 35-pound rucksack. Awards will be given to the fastest “rucker” man and woman and the fastest man and woman runners.

“Tyson Shields [National Guard Recruiter and Career Counselor] reached out to us because he wanted to do a 5K with the National Guard in the spring,” said Taylor Martin, the YMCA Member Engagement and Marketing Director. “We do one in the fall. [Y CEO] Kristy [Purlee] blended the March Against Addiction with the idea Tyson had.”

Before the walk, organizers have planned speakers, along with a performance by Bradie Shrum choir members, starting at about 8 a.m. until the walk/race starts at 9 a.m. Resources for people battling addiction and those who know and love people battling addiction will also be available.

“Last year, we had between 50 and 60 people,” said organizer Steve Crane. “I’m anticipating twice that this year. I’m excited. I think we’ll have a good crowd.”

Sergeant First Class Gene Klusmeier, who is helping organize the event from the National Guard’s perspective, said the National Guard will have vehicles on display and are sponsoring the march’s t-shirts. They are also providing food and drinks before, during and after the march.

“We’re really looking forward to this,” said Klusmeier. “Doing a 5K is one thing, but doing it to support a cause that supports our community makes it all the better.”

Crane said he hopes this march will speak a message of hope into the community.

“You’re never too far gone,” he said. “I know some of my former students struggle with addiction and we really are all in this together.”

You can register for the 5K online at The cost is a meaningful donation on the day of the event to support drug prevention efforts at the YMCA. High school-aged youth and military members are free. The march begins and ends at the YMCA on North Shelby Street.


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