Charity run in DC takes aim at drug addiction

WASHINGTON — Ninety-one Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And a goal for Saturday’s charity run in D.C. is to show affected families they’re not alone.

“I’d like to invite anyone. Anyone at all,” said run participant Meghan O’Brien, of D.C. She’s taking part in the first Shatterproof Rise Up Against Addiction 5K Run/Walk of Washington, D.C. at Catholic University on Saturday, Oct. 21.

“Anyone who wants to participate, our team is wide open,” O’Brien said. She and her extended family will participate on behalf of her cousin, Louis Menapace IV, who died in May.

Louis Menapace IV, far right, is pictured with his family. One of his cousins, Meghan O’Brien, said,
“We’re going to have a good time. We’re going to have a lot of laughter, and we’re going to celebrate him and his life.” She is gathering with family on Saturday for the Shatterproof charity run in D.C. (Courtesy Meghan O’Brien)

“He succumbed to the opioid epidemic after a very, very, very hard fight,” O’Brien said. “Our family is incredibly close, and we’ve all kind of decided we need to keep up the fight in his honor and on behalf of all the other people out there struggling with this disease.”

The run is organized by U.S. nonprofit Shatterproof, which was founded in 2012 after a father’s loss: His son took his own life after struggling with addiction and the stigma of addiction.

“Many times, addiction is a taboo word; there’s a lot of stigma and negative connotation on those words,” said Jasmin Bass of Shatterproof’s National Capital arm. “I think one of the main ways to conquer that is to talk about it.”

The group now advocates for expanded access to treatment and recovery programs. It lobbies state and federal leaders for policy changes and works to raise awareness.

“But we also will be doing workplace education, and we will be having parent treatment support groups coming this next year, as well,” Bass said.

“We at Shatterproof say that addiction is a public health crisis,” Bass added.

O’Brien wants people to know that people with an addiction like her cousin Louis deserve all the support of someone with a physical disease.

“Addiction and addiction disease is not a weakness of character,” she said. It’s a sentiment O’Brien hopes will be more widely shared.


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