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When something awesome changes...

“Everything is constantly changing; nothing remains the same.” Heraclitus, an ancient Greek philosopher, taught us that if there is one thing in life that we can count on, it's that change is all around us and in us. This is true for all things, even though we may want the good things to stay the same.

I want to share a BIG change in my life: at the end of 2023, my husband and I made the difficult decision to end one of the Best Things we have done: Ethan's Run Against Addiction (ERAA). In 2018 we started this 5K run/walk in Greenfield, WI in honor of our son Ethan's fight against his opiate addiction which tragically resulted in his death in 2016. With many partners alongside us, we raised more than $500,000 over the course of six years for sober living scholarships at the Aurora Culver Sober Living House in Wauwatosa, WI. These scholarships enabled over 150 people to have a second chance at life. Over 150 people whose dreams, families, friends and futures experienced healing and a fresh start that may not have been possible without these scholarships! The money raised also funded Yoga for Recovery classes, Music for Recovery meetings, seed acupuncture, and Peer Specialist salaries. These resources offered all residents, whether scholarship funded or not, the opportunity to learn new healthy coping mechanisms. This testimonial from one of the residents is one of many we’ve been blessed to hear over the last 5 years:

"I never would be where I am today if it wasn’t for the Culver House. The staff really care and are very dedicated to supporting the residents and providing a safe environment. I don’t have to worry about day-to-day things here, I can focus on my recovery. I hope to pay it forward myself one day. Today I live one day at a time and none of this would be possible without the support of the generous donors. Thank you from the bottom of my heart"---Anthony Y

We know Ethan is proud of how ERAA humanely supported, and will continue to support, those who travel this journey of fighting the disease of addiction.

ERAA was a very good thing. This event fought against the stigma and shame surrounding addiction, one of the most insidious barriers to seeking treatment for addiction. We are grateful for the sense of community that developed amongst the people that participated year after year. We are proud of those in recovery who showed up to celebrate their own fight against this disease. We felt our son's valiant spirit working through us to save lives from addiction. We sensed his daily presence in the long months of planning. We knew he stood with us on that first Saturday in August, at 8am when the air horn blew, to send off the runners and walkers each year. We said his name often as we recruited donors, sponsors, volunteers, education tables, and participants - many hundreds of participants each year. I wanted to hug them all for showing up. I rejoiced that healing was coming out of the loss of our Ethan.

But ERAA was also emotionally wrenching. Both grief and relief have surfaced in the months since we made this decision. Ambivalence and clarity. I thought doing ERAA would get easier as the years went on, but it didn't. It stayed hard. It got even harder for my husband who struggled with a delayed grief reaction over losing Ethan. We cried often in the months preceding ERAA. Organizing this event was an agonizing reminder that Ethan died--a reality that was mercifully less front-and-center in our lives for the rest of the year. It was emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically exhausting to pull off such a large event every year, despite the support of many people.

Before sunsetting ERAA, I communicated with my son via a medium to seek out his thoughts--maybe even his approval. The medium said, "He seems to be doing a thumbs up." (How could she know that he did this gesture when he was in favor of something, unless it really was Ethan??!) I could hear his voice saying, "It's okay that ERAA comes to an end, Mom. You and Dad, and everyone involved, did tons of good. It makes room in your life for something new. Be open to what is next!" His words eased my worry and guilt that we would be letting him down if we stopped the event. I feel Ethan shaking his head at my mother's guilt---he is perfect and whole now and thus would never judge me! My not wanting to disappoint my child (even if they are in heaven) mirrors a mother's desire everywhere I think.....

I feel sad, but clear that it is time to sunset the blessing of this powerfully impactful event. The good news, though, is that the fund that has provided hope and healing to so many isn’t sunsetting! The Ethan Monson-Dupuis Opiate Recovery Fund (ethansfund.org) is alive and well and seeking your support going forward.

So, here's what's next: While partnering with Advocate/Aurora Health Care we are providing the opportunity, via a virtual platform, to do one of three things that will facilitate the great work ERAA has enabled to date; to continue with the scholarships and programs that have, to date, helped those who are valiantly fighting addiction.

First, and the easiest of the three, is to donate directly on our website. Choose from either a one time, monthly or yearly donation option. One idea: make an annual donation on your loved one's birthday, angelversary or some other special date. This can be such a meaningful way to honor either your own recovery, the recovery of someone you cherish or a loved one whom you’ve lost to addiction.

Second, organize your own fundraising effort. Invite your family and friends to donate via a page you set up on the platform. The website will talk you through this option and provide you with a link that you can share with others.

Third, skip the fundraising page and either host an event (birthday party, family outing) and collect donations (instead of gifts) during this event. Choose a special day that honors your loved one who fought, or is still fighting, the disease of addiction. Request donations instead of a gift at your event and then donate the collected amount on our website.

Regardless of how you set up the donation, the funds will go directly to support addiction treatment/sober living via Ethan's Fund. There are no additional fees when you select the Donate button on our website. We need your help to ensure these scholarships and support services remain available at the Aurora Culver Sober Living House in Wauwatosa, WI.

Please consider one of these opportunities. Know that in honor of your loved one, you will be saving lives. Go to ethansfund.org and get started!


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