Running for Remembrance

Running for Remembrance

Tara Kuzma, a long-time member of the Rage Against Addiction team, is an avid runner. She is a huge supporter of us and volunteers countless hours at all of our events. Without her, Rage would not be where it is today. She shares her story with our readers to show why she is a big participant in our annual April Memory Walk / Recovery Run fundraiser and how she remembers her dear cousin who she lost to addiction.

“Running in the annual Rage Against Addiction Virtual Mile Challenge is always a time of remembering and honoring for me. I run every year in memory of my cousin Johnny who overdosed and passed away in 2014. Johnny and I grew up next door to each other. Our siblings were more like brothers and sisters growing up. It was cool to have cousins who lived right next door and who were also your best friends. The Kuzma / Nussle cousin clan was tightly knit. We spent weekends having slumber parties at our Grandmom’s house, and we were constantly back and forth between each other’s houses.

When Johnny passed away in 2014, our family was devastated. He overdosed on Easter morning just as everyone was getting ready to start their holiday festivities. I was having breakfast with my daughter and received numerous calls from my sister. I didn’t answer [because I was] thinking that she was just calling about Easter dinner. I thought I’d call her back after breakfast. She then started texting me “911.” I finally called and the first thing she said was that Johnny died. I couldn’t even fathom what she was saying. I thought she was joking. She repeating it and as she did, I screamed and yelled and sobbed on my kitchen floor, saying: “there is no way this is real!” I thought: how could my handsome 25-year-old cousin whom I just talked to days before about going to church with me, the same guy that just asked me about getting his contractor license weeks before, the same guy who ran marathons with me, be dead?! It was totally unimaginable.

The Saturday after Johnny was laid to rest, my Aunt Kim and I ran the Ocean City half marathon in his memory. We vowed to finish it, no matter if we walked or crawled to the end. I didn’t train and did not intend to run it, but I signed up the day before to run with her. We ran that same race with Johnny together in 2012. My uncle Hoot (Johnny’s dad) let me wear one of Johnny’s bandannas on my run so Johnny could run with me. It was super emotional.

Shortly after Johnny passed away, I became involved with Rage Against Addiction. I wanted to find a way to help others who were struggling with addiction. I never wanted another family to feel what mine did on that Easter morning in 2014.

I have been participating in the Rage Against Addiction Virtual Mile Challenge ever since. Each year, I share my daily runs and miles on Facebook. The first year I ran, I dedicated each run to someone in recovery, and to the Rage Against Addiction team and our programs. Every year since then, I make all my posts about Johnny. At one point, I even shared all the photos I could find that he took with his camera (he was getting into photography) and posted those with my miles. At another point, I took all of his running and motivational posts to share with my runs. And this year, I posted a picture of him every day, from childhood to adulthood. Running the Virtual Challenge is my way to remember my cousin Johnny, and to keep his name and memory alive.

For every mile I run during the month of April, I donate dollar for dollar back to Rage Against Addiction in Johnny’s name. In the first two years, I ran 200 miles in April. I ran my 100 miles for the challenge and ran Johnny’s 100 miles. Over the last two years, I ran 225 miles in April: My 100 miles for the challenge, Johnny’s 100 miles, and an extra 25 miles (one mile for each year of his life.) Johnny Nussle is loved and missed every day by so many people.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction, I beg you to please reach out! There are resources and help available. You just have to ask.”

Read the Note on Matters of Mental Health by Wendy

I met my friend Tara right after I started Rage Against Addiction in 2014. We were both experiencing the pain of a loved one affected by the disease of addiction. As we tried to navigate this tough time, we found purpose in Rage’s mission and working together. Despite our losses, we found hope in helping others. She has been with me and Rage from the beginning! It was Tara’s idea to have a run as our first fundraiser.  As you can see, her passion for running has not changed and each year is a testament of her dedication to and her continued support for Rage Against Addiction. I want to give a big thank you to our Chairman of the Board and my friend ’til the end. Finding purpose changes us. Giving back to the community and seeing how Rage and the Daughter’s House program is helping others, I would be lying if I didn’t say it all has a way of mending broken hearts.

Exciting News!

We are proud to introduce to you a new and exciting way for you to Stay In The Know With Rage. We have partnered with Harness to bring you text alerts to your phone. You can donate, support us in other ways, and get up-to-date details about what we have going on. We will share monthly campaigns with you as well as event information. All you have to do is sign up today to become a part of our community. Check it out here: Join The Community!

Listen up as you exercise, or drive to and from your long commute to work. If you haven’t already, you need to check out our podcasts dedicated to addiction, recovery, and mental health. Conversations with Rich Bennett offers a variety of topics that are valuable to everyone. And guess what?! Our very own Wendy Beck makes appearances in many episodes! Check us out today and don’t miss out.

   Please check our Event Calendar for more details about what we are up to!

During Overdose Awareness month in August, The Pampered Chef will be doubling donations to support Rage. Please keep an eye out for more details about this fundraiser and how you can participate. We rely on our community because we know it takes a village to help others into recovery and to help families heal from the heartbreak of addiction.

We serve locally but think globally. For counseling, or for addiction, substance abuse disorder, or mental illness treatment, please contact your area’s health department, county government, hospital, or law enforcement agency.

Addiction Connections Resource: A non-profit organization that assists with providing resources and support for addiction treatment and that educates the community about substance abuse disorder. Located in Fallston, MD. Please visit here or call 443-417-7810 for more information.

Ashley Addiction Treatment: An inpatient treatment center that personalizes clinical programs based on individual need. Located in Havre De Grace, MD. Please visit here or call 800-799-4673 for information about online and in-person meeting services.

Celebrate Recovery: A local support group for those with addictive behaviors. Located in Bel Air, MD and Joppa, MD.​

Mt. Zion Church (1643 Churchville Road, Bel Air, MD 21015): every Thursday at 5:45pm. Please visit here for more information about meetings.

Mountain Christian Church (New Life Center 1802 Mountain Road, Joppa, MD 21085): every Friday at 6:00pm. Please visit here for more details.

GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing): A local support group for those who have lost someone to addiction.

6:30pm on the 2nd Wednesday of each month.

Located in the Education Building at Mt. Zion Church: 1643 Churchville Road, Bel Air, MD 21015

Contact for more information. The private national Facebook group is available. Please visit here to ask to join.

The Klein Family Harford Crisis Center: A clinic that provides immediate care for mental health and addiction. Located in Bel Air, MD. Please visit here or call 410-874-0711 for information about services.

Loving An Addict: A local support group for family and friends of those in active addiction.

7:00pm on the 1st Saturday of each month.

Located in the Education Building at Mt. Zion Church: 1643 Churchville Road, Bel Air, MD 21015

Contact for more information.

Voices Of HopeAn organization made up of people in recovery who advocate for behavioral health disorder prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery resources, who eliminate the stigma of addiction through outreach events and education, and who support all pathways of recovery including harm reduction and Narcan training. Located in Cecil County, MD. Please visit here or call 443-933-7055 for information about services.

Daughter’s House: Designed to assist women who are transitioning from substance abuse treatment to recovery; includes three Level II Maryland Certification of Recovery Residence (MCORR) sober living houses (Daughter’s House, Sister House, and The Cottage) located in Harford County, MD. Each house is tailored to meet each individual’s needs.

RAA ABC (After Baby Care): Empowering new moms in early recovery with postpartum care packages for mother and baby. Items are selected from a predetermined checklist for qualifying and referred families.

HALO (How to Live Without Our Addicted Loved One): An online grief support group specifically for those that lost loved ones to substance abuse. Click here to ask to join the private Facebook page. *Please read and answer the membership questions prior to joining.*

Wendy Beck: Founder and Executive Director

Rachel Bongiorno: Daughter’s House Program Director and Recovery Coach

Mia EllisAdministrator and Board Secretary

Amanda Buddenbohn: Board of Directors President

Tara Kuzma: Board of Directors Treasurer

Rich Bennett: Board Member

Meredith Morris: Board Member

Jeff Pollard: Board Member