Former Baseball Star CARES About Addiction

Just a cursory look at the daily paper or a quick glance at the local TV news is all the evidence you need to understand that addiction is a major problem in Wayne County.

Opioids in general and heroin in particular are the headline-makers at the moment. However, abuse of alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and prescription medication has long been lurking in the shadows … whether we want to admit it or not.

Many local groups are out there on the front lines each day, fighting the good fight against these insidious addictions.

The Wayne County Heroin Prevention Task Force has made inroads in raising awareness of this burgeoning epidemic.

Led by Board President Gerald Margraf and Vice President Suzie Frisch, the Wayne County Heroin Prevention Task Force has accomplished a great deal in a short amount of time and is to be commended.

CARES

While the task force has been very visible on social media, another group you may not have heard about yet just celebrated its first anniversary.

CARES (Community, Advocacy, Recovery, Education, Support) was founded by Jim Simpson last February and strives to show that people in recovery can be valuable community members.

Jim is a local resident who works as a Certified Recovery Specialist at the Wayne County Drug & Alcohol Commission. He's in recovery himself and very enthusiastic about his young group.

With Simpson at the helm, CARES is preparing to host its biggest event yet ...one that he hopes will bring his cause into the mainstream.

On Saturday, May 20, former Major League Baseball star Darryl Strawberry will speak to the community about his own road to recovery.

The event is free and open to the public. It will be held at the Wallenpaupack Area High School gym, starting at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

A total of 2,500 seats are available, but more than 700 of those have already been claimed. Jim hopes that there will still be some tickets left at the door, but at the rate they're going he can't guarantee it.

“Give me a call or visit our website,” Jim said. “I don't want anyone who wants to attend to miss out. It's kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Jim can be reached at 570-253-5970, extension 3434. The website is caresrecovery.org. Or, just drop by Drug & Alcohol, located at 318 Tenth Street in Honesdale during regular business hours.

Finding His Way

Darryl Strawberry was an electrifying talent and a charismatic personality when he burst onto the Major League Baseball scene back in 1983.

His intimidating presence at the plate, his 6-6 frame and long, looping swing, brought immediate comparisons to such diamond immortals as Ted Williams and Henry Aaron.

Strawberry made his debut with the Mets in 1983 and won Rookie of the Year honors. He played in 122 games, batted .257 while crushing 26 homers and collecting 74 RBIs.

Straw finished his career with a .259 batting average, 330 homeruns and exactly 1,000 RBIs. He was an 8-time All-Star, won eight Silver Slugger awards and four World Series rings.

Unfortunately, Darryl fell prey to addiction. He abused alcohol and cocaine for a large portion of his adult life. This addiction had a devastating impact on his baseball career.

“Darryl knows that his addiction probably prevented him from getting into the Hall of Fame,” Jim said. “That's part of his story. He always says that baseball was a just a part of his life … and not always a very good part.”

Strawberry retired from baseball in 1999 after a tumultuous 17-year career.

Once out of the game, he could focus all his powers on achieving recovery and beating colon cancer.

Simpson met Strawberry at a PNC Field event last summer. The two hit it off and Jim asked Darryl if he's like to come speak to our local community one day.

Strawberry agreed and the planning commenced.

He's looking forward to visiting the area, eager to tell his story of hope and recovery.

Support

There are several ways in which you can help make this event a success.

CARES is seeking help from area businesses. Jim is looking for sponsors to help offset all the costs of this exciting event.

“I really think it's important that the tickets are free,” Jim said. “I don't want anybody left out, especially if they or a family member is looking for help.”

There will be many informational booths set up in the gym lobby. Among them: Just Believe, PATH, Little Creek, White Deer Run, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, CARES and the Wayne County Heroin Prevention Task Force.

Information for premium seating, “Meet & Greet” tickets for individuals and businesses are also available.

Vision

Jim Simpson's vision for what CARES can become is a simple one.

“I want our role to be as a bridge from the world of addiction to the world of recovery,” he said. “I want people to know that we're here to help, that recovery is possible and that we can all be productive members of society.”

The CARES mission statement is all about community. It says...

“We hope to promote a healthier community by providing support to individuals and families affected by alcoholism and drug addiction.

“We want to offer hope and recovery to addicts, alcoholics and their families, loved ones and the greater community.

“We seek to educate the community and advocate to reduce the stigma associated with alcoholism and drug addiction.”

For more information on CARES, to help sponsor Strawberry's visit, or to obtain tickets, please call Jim Simpson at 570-253-5970, extension 3434.