Red Deer’s first Recovery Day was celebrated with messages of inspiration and hope at City Hall Park on Saturday.
Gratitude was this year’s theme as dozens turned out for the event that was repeated in 25 other communities across Canada.
John Moore, who once struggled with addiction and is now a mental health therapist, inspired the crowd with his own story.
“Everybody here has a path in front of them they would not believe,” he said.
Later, in an interview he said it is important for people to know the “lie is dead.
“Once an addict, always an addict, is not true,” he said.
“They can be very healthy, prosperous, civic-minded, good members of society.”
Moore said having children was the turning moment in his life and inspired him to face his problems.
“The greatest gift an addict can give their children is to get clean.”
One of the local organizers Kelly McCrea said the event is focused on celebrating recovery.
“It’s about changing from looking at the problem, which is addiction, to looking at the solution, which is recovery.”
Many of those who are recovering from addiction don’t want to let employers or others know of their challenge.
“We should be proud of our recovery. We should be proud of what we’ve done.”
McCrea was pleased with the turnout, which drew more than 50 people to speeches, music and readings during the morning.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic with the turnout. It’s a community coming together and Red Deer is that kind of community.
“We had a lot of help in planning this. And you know what, nobody can take credit for it. It’s the whole community that came together and did this.”
McCrea said she is in long-term recovery and loves to help others.
“I’m passionate about recovering. I’m passionate about what I have had to do to actually have a great life, and I’m passionate about helping people find that.”
The event that ran from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. featured information booths from Alberta Health Services and groups devoted to helping those struggling with addictions of all kinds.