Members of a local addiction recovery group are biking from Rochester to Albany this week to try to erase the stigma surrounding drug and alcohol abuse and promote a message of hope for those who are still struggling.
"Before I got clean and sober, this bike ride would not have even been a thought in my mind,” said Yana Khasper, co-founder of ROCovery Fitness. “I didn't think I could do anything. I had no purpose. I had no hope of leading a productive life. Through this bike ride, I think we're able to show others that nothing is impossible."
Khasper, Sean Smith and three of their members are peddling 250 miles along the Erie Canal Way Trail on their way to the New York State Recovery Conference in Albany this weekend.
Despite the heat and humidity on Wednesday, they were maintaining a 15 mile an hour pace and expect to be in Albany in the late afternoon or early evening on Friday.
ROCovery supports sober living and an active lifestyle. That may not be the image some have in their minds when they think of recovery.
Khasper fought addiction for 15 years, starting at the age of 12 when she was drinking alcohol. She said the shame and guilt that often comes with addiction can prevent people from seeking help. "Some of the misconceptions about recovery are that we're bad people or that we're manipulative or that we lie and we're hopeless. Some of the words I hear a lot are 'junkie', 'addict', 'drunk', she said. “And really, that's not what we are. We're mothers and fathers and loved ones. We're employed as mayors and legislators. We're taxpaying citizens and we vote."
You can follow the ROCovery bike trip on Facebook and Twitter at #ROCoveryfitness and #NYSRecoveryCon.