Running for Hope

Running For Hope


It was a morning of chilly downpours and gusty winds, but that didn’t stop hundreds of families from coming out to our Memory Walk / Recovery Run on April 1st at Cedar Lane Regional Park in Bel Air, Maryland. There were puddles of water and mud, and soaking wet people but it was still a beautiful and powerful morning that brought everyone together to spread hope and love, and to remember lives lost. Justin Rezac, of Glen Arm, Maryland was the first to cross the finish line at our April 1st Memory Walk / Recovery Run. He shares his story of hope and help, and why he participated in Rage’s annual fundraiser.

“To put it simply, I ran that 5k because I enjoy running. That’s really it.

I have struggled with addiction. Ever since I was in middle school, I was abusing prescription amphetamines. I never had many worth-while hobbies growing up, but when I found running in late high school, I found purpose. However, my addiction really side tracked my life goals and ultimately ended any chance at a professional running career.

I know I’ll never go to the Olympics or set world records, and even during this event, my 22-minute 5K time was fairly mediocre for my age, but comparing myself to others isn’t the point; I compare myself to who I was yesterday.

That’s really a game changing mentality because I noticed everyone around me generally wants to be better than everyone else. However, the sad truth is that if you compare yourself to others, eventually you’ll never be enough. Someone will be smarter, better looking, more capable, etc.

You might say that this is a loser mentality or you may think that I’m scared to compare myself to others for the risk of not living up to their standards. This just isn’t true.

At my worst, I was drinking a handle of Vodka (1.75 liters) a day and also doing various other drugs. I was 310 pounds with severe sleep apnea and had pre-diabetes with constant high blood pressure. Today I’m 190 pounds, healthy, employed, and an asset to others in AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and life. I don’t see myself as a loser. I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to being doing and I am doing it well. If I compare myself to someone better than me, I’d be upset to an extent, but my main goal is to be better than who I was before and I’d say I’m doing one hell of a job.

I got that bad because at some point during my college career, I realized my best isn’t the best so I just gave up and regressed in apathetic isolation and became overwhelmed by addiction. Obviously my story is more complicated, but the point is that I was selfish and self centered, and when life didn’t go my way, I gave up.

Being this desperate and broken gave me a spiritual experience. I changed my whole attitude on life. I knew this was no way to live and I got that way because I lived life constantly thinking about myself and how I compared to others. I was full of self.

For part of 2021 and most of 2022, I lived California. I lived in sober living, I walked everywhere, and I ran for fun out of boredom and to see stuff around Los Angeles because I didn’t have a car and my bikes kept getting stolen. By the time I left California, I was running fifty plus miles a week.

My days were mostly volunteering around twenty hours a week at a low-bottom rehab facility for the homeless and working at Petsmart bathing dogs around thirty to forty hours a week. I was humbled during this.

I changed who I was by not comparing outwardly, but self internalizing reflections with the purpose of helping others. So simply put, I make myself better so I can better help others. I changed not for myself but for people in AA, my family, friends and others.

By being a drug addict, I was a blight on society. I just took up space, contributed nothing to others, and was a burden and liability to my family. Now I hope to be a pillar to society, help others, and become a role model and be someone that one can look up to.

So why did I run this 5K? I really did it for myself, but if it gives people hope, I really do enjoy that. But my most important focus and priority isn’t running, but to help anyone I can. I enjoy working with others and when I take my last breath, I want to know that I did what I could to be a good person; moreover, I want to push myself to give hope for others.”

THIS is why WE do it. Not only do we want to raise money to benefit our programs, we also want people to feel connected. Whether they are struggling in active addiction or know someone who is, whether they’ve lost someone, or whether they need an extra share of hope, our annual Memory Walk / Recovery Run provides all that and more for our community. There is a chance for better days ahead. There is a way to move forward, whether in grief or in a difficult part of your life. Giving up is not an option. Recovery is. And so is hope and healing.

Read the Note on Matters of Mental Health by Wendy

This event is near and dear to my heart. We have a strong team that works on all the organization, including but not limited to getting sponsors, taking responsibility for certain tasks, and even showing up before sunrise in the rain! This is Year Seven, and people are still losing loved ones and still grieving loved ones lost.  As I stood there that rainy morning, I got a lump in my throat and tears filled my eyes as the runners ran by. It is a bittersweet event, for sure, and we cannot do this alone. We sincerely appreciate everyone who made this morning possible.


August is Overdose Awareness Month. While it can be a heartbreaking time of year, it can also serve as a reminder of what an overdose is and how we can help someone if they are in the middle of one, and it can also give families a chance to share pictures and stories of their loved ones.

If you want to be a part of this campaign, please consider sharing with us a story and picture of someone you have lost. We will share it on our social media pages beginning in August.

Please note:

-Please keep your story under 600 words.

-We reserve the right to edit for content.

-Please submit your details to no later than July 25, 2023.


April 22, 2023: Do you have unused or expired medication? There is a safe way to dispose of it. If you’re in the surrounding Harford County, MD area, please stop by one of the locations on this flyer to get rid of your medication. Check with your local law enforcement agency or hospital if you are not from the area, but would like to properly dispose of the medication in your household.
April 29 2023: Join us for our End of Virtual Event Fundraiser while eating some delicious food between 1:00pm and 5:00pm. Proceeds will benefit our programs. The good news is the Ocean City Marathon is also this day so we hope to see some starving runners afterwards! Located at 12849 Ocean Gateway – Ocean City, MD 21842.
June 3, 2023: Come to Main Street Tower in Bel Air, MD for the annual Emily Evans Concert For Hope. Bring your family and friends, eat delicious food, and listen to talented musicians rock the day away in loving memory of those we’ve lost to addiction. Proceeds will benefit Rage Against Addiction, the Klein Family Harford Crisis Center, Addiction Connections Resource, and the Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation. For more more details and to purchase tickets, please visit

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 visithere for more details.

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

7:00pm 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.

7:00 pm every Saturday.

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

Contact for more information.

Voices Of Hope:  An 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 sober living houses (Daughter’s House, Sister House, and The Cottage) located in the suburbs of Harford County, MD. Click here to visit the Facebook page.

Rage Club: This program is a resource broker for families and children who have been touched by the devastation of addiction; we encourage open and ongoing conversations as we believe that is the first step in the healing process. Click here for more information.

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.*

RAA ABC (After Baby Care): Provides post-partum care packages to new mothers in early recovery.

Wendy Beck: Founder and Executive Director

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

Mia Ellis:Newsletter Writer and Administrator

Amanda Buddenbohn:Board of Directors

Tara Kuzma:Chairman of the Board of Directors

Sarah Hoover and Michael Nesline: Rage Club was inspired by their need to heal from their own personal loss