At annual Annapolis Recovery Walk, community members share hope

Lauren Lumpkin
Contact Reporterllumpkin@capgaznews.com

Dozens of people filled Whitmore Park in downtown Annapolis Sunday afternoon. They laughed, they cried, they shared stories of drug addiction and recovery.

Sunday marked the seventh annual Annapolis Recovery Walk. It was created to raise awareness about addiction, promote behavioral wellness and show the community that recovery is possible.

Bryanne Maynew said she walked for her family members who have struggled with addiction.

“Our family has a history of addiction, so the more people we can get to believe it is a disease, and not a fault in character, the better,” the Bowie resident said. “It’s a resource issue, it’s an economic issue, it’s a public health issue and it affects everybody.”

County Executive Steve Schuh kicked off the one-and-a-half mile walk through Annapolis. His administration helped introduce “Safe Stations” last year, an initiative that converted police stations and firehouses into addiction treatment resource centers.

“Events like the Annual Recovery Walk help remove the stigma of addiction and let county residents celebrate triumph over adversity,” he said in a statement.

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley also attended the event and spoke.

"Addiction is not a moral failing and can happen to anyone," Buckley said in a statement. "Bringing everyone together to share their stories of recovery helps inspire others to speak up and seek treatment. Showing the community there is hope, that people can recover successfully, and that behavioral health professionals can help are critically important to combatting this epidemic.”

Families, activists and addiction survivors walked one-and-a-half miles, starting at Whitmore Park at Calvert and Clay streets and ending at Lawyers Mall.

Brandee Izquiredo Johnson of Faces and Voices of Recovery — a national addiction recovery organization — delivered a keynote speech at the finish line.

Lauren Giglio, 37, said Sunday was her first Recovery Walk. She came in support of her husband, who has been sober for five years.

“A lot of people look at my husband and don’t think he had an issue,” Giglio said. Her husband became addicted to opioids after he had surgery on his hand more than five years ago.

“It’s a family effort. I’m still learning about it each and every day, along with him.”

The Recovery Walk is part of a month-long campaign by the federal Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

This year’s walk was hosted by Recovery Anne Arundel.

“We try to bridge the normal community, if you will, and the recovery community to reduce stigma,” said Angel Traynor, the Recovery Anne Arundel coordinator.

Traynor in 2012 founded Serenity Sistas’, a network of supportive homes for people recovering from addiction.

“I am a person in long-term recovery, Traynor said. “I haven’t used heroin or alcohol in 11 years. Thirty-three years before that, all bets were off. I did a lot of damage to my community.”

Now Traynor uses her platform in Annapolis to educate her community and combat stigma about addiction. She’s called for collaboration between people who have dealt with addiction and people who have not.

“If we’re ever going to get through this addiction crisis that we have, we have to work together,” she said.

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