Dublin Villager

April 27 event fundraiser for Strides for Sobriety

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During his time in rehab, Mike Coyle saw lots of people leave before they were ready.

The 16-year-old Coffman High School junior is hoping to right that problem for local teens with the help of his family.

Strides for Sobriety was established this year by the Dublin family that will work to raise $30,000 to help one teen defeat addiction with in-patient care.

The first fundraiser is a 5K run and walk slated for April 27.

"There were people that really wanted to be there, but some insurance (companies) wouldn't cover it," Mike said of others he saw in rehab.

"It really stuck with me."

According to his mother Ramona Penland-Coyle, some insurance companies only cover in-patient care for someone who is suicidal or harmful to others.

"Once insurance was up most parents couldn't afford to keep their kids in," said Barry Penland-Coyle, Mike's father.

The Coyles were able to financially manage 30 days of in-patient care for Mike and 90 days of intensive out-patient care.

"All the kids looked like kids from our community," Mr. Coyle said of other patients at the Indianapolis in-patient center.

"They all had the same problems but some weren't given time to recover. They went right back into the same environment."

Mike never got into heroin, but said he took whatever he could find.

With a strong support system of family, friends, Coffman High School and AA, Mike has more than 18 months of sobriety under his belt.

But he knows others aren't as lucky.

The family is working to help other teens dealing with addiction by raising money for in-patient care.

"Someone I know succeeded, so hopefully we can help them get through a rough point in their life," said Mike's twin, Jon.

The Strides for Sobriety 5K Run, Walk and Trot is slated for 10 a.m. April 27, and will step off from Karrer Middle School, 7245 Tullymore Drive.

Addiction isn't a readily-discussed subject, but since starting Strides for Sobriety, the Coyles have learned everyone has a story.

"What's been amazing is everyone has a first-line contact with someone who's had an addiction," Mrs. Coyle said. "It's such a dirty secret. No one talks about it."

The family is hoping to shed light on addiction and raise awareness of the problem with the new foundation.

"I never thought it would be our kid. Our kids have boundaries. They have rules," Mrs. Coyle said.

"But they find ways around boundaries."

Even teens in Dublin are impacted.

"I think Dublin is no different than any other community," said Coffman High School Drug and Alcohol Counselor GeorgiAnn Diniaco, who is also part of the new foundation.

"It's an issue we deal with every single day," Diniaco said.

"We have a lot of young people that don't choose to use, but others that do and don't have the opportunity to get the treatment they need."

According to Diniaco, people who get involved with drugs and alcohol at a young age can deal with issues through adulthood if they don't get the proper help -- which is something Strides for Sobriety is hoping to provide.

"Young kids who choose to use before age 15 experience the greatest risk in adult life with alcohol and other drugs and also can experience addiction," Diniaco said.

"When we look at a younger person, the earlier we can intervene and provide consistent support, the better."

Once Strides for Sobriety has raised enough money, a board will be formed to decide who will receive in-patient care funding.

To qualify the child must want help, parents must be supportive and there must be a financial need, Ramona said.

The family is hoping to fund recovery for one person annually and plans to establish a few more fundraisers this year.

"As my boys have said, 'People aren't dropping dead in the schools, but they can go down the hallway and find it,' " Mrs. Coyle said.

"The exposure is there."

Registration for Strides for Sobriety's first fundraiser is $30 for the timed 5K and $25 for an untimed walk or run.

Both participants and volunteers are still being recruited for the event.

Registration can be completed online at stridesforsobriety.com.

"If one kid can get sober from this, then we have succeeded," Mike Coyle said.

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