From left, Olivia Iwasko, Cooper Carlin and Cecilia Carlin were among 20 Macomb Lutheran North students participating in the Aug. 7 Run Drugs Out of Town event, hosted by FAN.

From left, Olivia Iwasko, Cooper Carlin and Cecilia Carlin were among 20 Macomb Lutheran North students participating in the Aug. 7 Run Drugs Out of Town event, hosted by FAN.

Photo provided by John Brandt

Lutheran North student group participates in FAN event

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published August 26, 2021


FRASER/MACOMB TOWNSHIP — They received medals.

Not for the Olympics, but for a local event aimed at raising funds for programs Families Against Narcotics, of FAN, provides to individuals and families who have been affected by addiction.

On Aug. 7, about 20 students from Macomb Lutheran North participated in FAN’s annual Run Drugs Out of Town event at Fraser High School.

Renette Woychowski was one Lutheran North student who experienced the event.

The 17-year-old Woychowski, a senior, attended the race in part because of personal events.

“My birth parents were involved with drug abuse, and that’s how I got taken away from them and adopted,” she said. “It’s always been a very personal passion of mine to talk against substance abuse.”

Woychowski is involved with the student group Example — formed in 2010 and based on 1 Timothy 4:12, which encourages believers to set an example in speech, life, love, faith and purity.

“The morning of, we do a balloon release where each color represents something,” she said. “Whether it be people in the Hope Not Handcuffs program and people who have passed away.”

As an Example member, Woychowski said it’s important to her to take younger students under her wing and be a good role model.

“Having someone they can relate to who firmly believes it’s not cool to be doing drugs and alcohol and that you can have so much without that being a heavy part of their high school experience,” she said.

FAN was founded in 2007 and is a grassroots organization. The race was back in-person this year after going virtual in 2020.

“I think a lot of times, high school students don’t understand the impact that addiction has on families and friends,” said John Brandt, Example founder, North teacher and the school’s director of academic affairs. “They’ll hear about it and flip through it, but when you attend Run Drugs Out of Town, you see the devastating impact that addiction has.”

He added that the event helps others see the abundance of encouragement, compassion and courage that those in recovery, and those impacted, are doing to make a difference.

“You see the faces of all the people who have died of addiction, and you also see what a difficult journey it has been and how grateful they are for FAN to create awareness and be a great resource in the variety of resources they offer,” Brandt said.

This was the seventh year Lutheran North was represented at the race.

Brandt said, through FAN representatives, people can see there is a face connected to FAN.

“We have been so fortunate when we ask those people to come in to speak at Example or to the Lutheran North community,” he said. “When you ask a young man or woman in recovery to come in and explain their story, that’s very powerful.”

A typical Example event includes a message from a speaker or a video presentation and fun activities.

As part of Example, a key message Brandt tries to convey to students is that not everybody in high school drinks alcohol or uses drugs.

Due to the pandemic, Example did not meet last school year. Brandt hopes its first event of the new academic year can happen in mid-September.