CHRIS ATWOOD FOUNDATION INC wrote -
I'm Spencer Brothers. I grew up in Northern Virginia and I've been in recovery for 6 years. I'm also sick and tired of losing friends to overdose. So I'm doing something about it. I'm hiking the entire 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail.
I'm taking on this gruelling challenge in memory of my dear friend Chris who died of a heroin overdose in 2013, and for all the others who have died of overdose. All the funds raised will go to The Chris Atwood Foundation's overdose reversal program to provide narcan and overdose response training to people at risk.
I'm currently walking 12-30 miles every single day through snow, rain, and beating sun, to raise funds to help others find the recovery that has so transformed my life.
Please help me reach my goal to save lives from this easily preventable cause of death.
How you can help:
1) Sponsor by mile. Your generous monthly gift will encourage me to press onward on even the hardest days on the trail!
- $1 per mile = $366 monthly gift
- 75 cents per mile = $275 monthly gift
- 50 cents per mile = $183 monthly gift
- 25 cents per mile = $92 monthly gift
- 21 cents per mile = $77 monthly gift
- 10 cents per mile = $36 monthly gift
- 5 cents per mile = $18 monthly gift
(Click donate, select monthly gift option, and enter your chosen amount.)
2) Make a one-time donation of whatever amount feels right to you.
3) SHARE, SHARE, SHARE! On social media, through email - tell all your family and friends!
Six years ago, my addiction had taken over my life. I had been to two wilderness therapy programs, one therapeutic boarding school, had been homeless for a short period, and was actively dodging drug tests at the outpatient treatment center I was court-mandated to attend. I was failing out of community college, couldn’t hold a job, had broken my family’s trust, and was full of anxiety and depression I couldn’t cope with.
On February 27, 2011, I was granted a reprieve from the insane thinking and behavior that characterizes the disease I suffered from, and in that window of willingness I asked for help. Through quality resources and continuous love and support from family members and friends, I was able to begin to stand and transform my life. For the last six years, I have stayed clean from alcohol and other drugs the only way I think doing so is possible - one step at a time.
I realize that I am very fortunate. Most who try to recover from drug addiction do not have the arsenal of resources and support that I do. For many, their communities stigmatize rather than support them, and lack of funding and treatment resources make access to care nearly impossible. Even with adequate resources, recovering from drug addiction is a difficult thing to do.
February 23, 2013: My close friend Christopher William Atwood died of a heroin overdose. Chris was a truly amazing person, and he and I were like brothers. I spent more time with him than any other friend. I lived with his family for brief periods on two separate occasions. Chris was an amazing person, and his loss was shocking and tragic.
After his death, Christopher’s family founded the Chris Atwood Foundation, which has done (and continues to do) amazing work to help bridge the gap between addicts and the resources they and their families need to maximize their chances of recovery. In the past four years, the CAF has done so much good, including: founding and supporting recovery support groups on college campuses, providing recovery housing scholarships, conducting community education workshops on addiction, holding grief support groups for family and friends that have lost loved ones to addiction, and training people how to use naloxone (an overdose-reversing medication that could have saved Christopher’s life had it been more available at the time of his death) and getting it into their hands or the hands of people close to them. When the board of pharmacy told Ginny to stop giving out naloxone, she led the charge to get the Naloxone Access Bill passed, which allows community organizations to possess and distribute the medication. Ginny stood beside Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe as he signed the bill into law on the fourth anniversary of Christopher’s death.
So much accomplished, and yet there is still much work to be done- work I know the CAF will successfully do in the same manner I personally recovered: one step at a time. I want to support this labor in whatever way I can.
I ran the Philadelphia Marathon in 2013 and the Ragnar Relay in 2014 and 2015 as fundraisers to honor Christopher and support this vital work.
Now, both in an effort to find greater clarity and purpose in my own life, and in an effort to truly and fittingly honor Chris, I am attempting to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail.
The “AT” is a 2,200-mile foot trail spanning fourteen states, running from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. And I will be attempting to hike all of it. The first half I’ll be doing alone. The second half, I am grateful that I will be hiking alongside my partner and best friend, Sarah Guthrie.
I estimate this trip will take me 5 to 6 months. It will be a journey of personal discovery, hardship, and immense joy. Hopefully, the trail I walk will help blaze the trail for other people who are trying to recover from the same illness I was fortunate enough to recover from. I hope to raise $21,000- one thousand for every year of Christopher’s life on this Earth. All donations go to the Chris Atwood Foundation.
I am thankful for the support I have received that has made this opportunity possible. To my parents, thank you for your help in so many of the steps of preparation. And thank you for pledging a dollar for every mile. Thank you to Mark Atwood, who also has already pledged a dollar for every mile before my hike has even started. Thank you to Ginny, who has helped tremendously in putting this fundraiser together. Thank you to Potomac Pathways, who are helping sponsor my hike, and who do amazing work in helping young adults navigate a life of recovery. Lastly but certainly not least, thank you to Sarah, who has emotionally helped me prepare to undertake the journey of a lifetime. A journey I will accomplish the only way possible - one step at a time.