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Run Drugs Out of Town event goes virtual

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published August 25, 2020


FRASER — Families Against Narcotics’ annual Run Drugs Out of Town event is taking place Aug. 29, but it won’t be the same as in past years.

The 2019 rendition of the event, which started at the track at Fraser High School, raised more than $155,000 in total and saw 2,544 participants — the most in the event’s 11-year history.

This year, due to COVID-19, FAN organizers had to cancel the in-person event. Now, a virtual event — running from 9 a.m. to noon — will take its place. Instead of gathering at FHS, people will walk or run wherever they want — a sidewalk, a road, a trail or a treadmill. T-shirts, race bibs and a limited number of medals will still be provided.

“Virtual races are a bit different, but they are extremely popular across the country and have become very common during the pandemic,” said FAN Director of Operations Kelley Nahas. “We really wanted to have our usual, in-person run because it’s our favorite FAN event every year. But we decided to err on the side of caution and go virtual.”

FAN Executive Director Linda Davis is looking on the bright side, mentioning how the event originally began with 79 people and now is in the thousands. The organization utilized a virtual platform months ago.

“It’s really hard to set expectations with COVID because we’ve never done a virtual run,” Davis said. “We shifted all of our other operations to virtual and actually have had a huge following. We hope people realize charities are really hard hit by this pandemic.”

Fundraising has been hit the hardest for the organization. Businesses that annually donate have been hit hard, Davis said, but she is hopeful some will find ways to still be involved. At press time, she said a good number of teams and sponsors had signed up, but not as many as for the in-person event.

During the pandemic, FAN has excelled in utilizing online platforms. Davis said that some FAN meetings will draw 100 people, often in church basements or the like, but a Facebook Live session can reach 4,000 individuals.

There’s a convenience to it, notably for those who don’t have routine transit options or have schedules that prevent them from attending in-person meetings. Even 12-step programs are being done in a virtual format.

“In some ways it’s allowed us to spread the word,” she said. “We’ll continue to do the combination. You do these things out of need and realize there’s a real benefit to them.”

The pandemic has led some people back to their old ways. Davis said she knows several families who lost loved ones to overdoses once the pandemic began. She said those with substance abuse disorder and are in treatment need to rely on other people. However, when people are isolated and severed from families or general human contact, relationships developed or blossomed are “ripped from them.”

“The ($600 federal government) incentive check was a great thing financially, but for people who are new to recovery, you give them that big sum of cash and it could be a trigger to go out and use again,” she said.

Davis mentioned one man she knew who was 12 years sober but ultimately led astray during the pandemic, reverting back to alcohol.

“It was just a falling down with losing his sobriety,” Davis said, and he even called her for help while he was intoxicated.

As for returning to in-person meetings, Davis hopes September will bring some easement on laws and the ability for those who require help to find it in others.

“People are afraid right now and we’re being respectful of that,” she said.

For more information on the virtual race, visit