By: Emma Mcintosh

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A pack of motorcyclists journeyed to Drumheller Saturday to combat the stigma surrounding addiction.


The scavenger hunt-style 12 Stop Ride for Recovery Motorcycle Road Rally, organized by the Fresh Start Recovery Centre, ended with an afternoon helicopter trip over Alberta’s famous hoodoos.

“There are so many things that cover AIDS and cancer and diabetes, which are all really important, but none for addiction,” said Fresh Start spokeswoman Lisa Simone.

“The event really is so dynamic and really speaks to the fact that we do recover.”

The motorcycle riders received their first clue Saturday morning at Fresh Start, in northeast Calgary. They visited 12 stops — a number chosen for the common 12-step addiction recovery program — to learn about a different aspect of the recovery process.

And the giant pack of motorcycles was quite a sight for those who caught a glimpse as the group made its way northeast.

“People get to experience it,” Simone said.

This is the eighth annual ride. Every year, organizers choose a different route to take participants on a new journey.

The ride also doubles as a fundraiser for those in need of recovery, with participants, sponsors and community members making donations in various forms. Many of those who participate have a very personal stake in it, Simone said.

“Some people ride for themselves, some ride for a brother they lost,” she said.

“If they don’t ride, a lot of them volunteer and donate their time that way.”

Though fundraising totals aren’t ready yet, Simone said that’s just a bonus. The real point, she said, is to spread awareness of what recovery looks like.

“Every year we get bigger and bigger,” she said.

“I think that shame and stigma affect us all, and when it comes to addiction there’s still a lot we can do.”

The entire event is organized by a staff of 12, but put into action through the efforts of about 80 volunteers. Fresh Start residents and alumni often like lending a hand too, Simone said.

Simone added that many of the staff are in recovery as well.

“We all have a buy in for raising money for men and their families to get well,” she said.

Overall, Simone said the ride was meant to show anyone who’s struggling that help is out there.

“We need more awareness of addiction and what recovery looks like,” she said.

“This is one piece of it.”

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