PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Approximately 36 pictures of people who have lost their lives to overdose lined the paved trail around Mantle Lake Park on Saturday.
Two pictures of Trevor Graves with his children Wyatt and Gracie — who both turned 11 years old this year — were at the start and end of the line of photos.
Approximately 636 people lost their lives to overdoses in 2021 with around 717 people losing their lives in 2022 for Aroostook County. There were more than 1,000 turnovers in 2022, which means lives saved from overdoses with narcan, according to the non-profit group Recovery Aroostook.
“This is an event to celebrate the life and legacy of Trevor Graves, who passed away from a fentanyl overdose last year,” said April Flagg, media coordinator for Recovery Aroostook.
About 56 runners participated in the Memorial 5K and 30 virtual runners who posted pictures online of themselves running. Each runner ran for either Trevor, or the memory of another person who had lost their life to substance use disorder. Approximately $4,000 was raised for this year’s Memorial 5K, Flagg said.
The You Matter! The Trevor Graves Memorial 5K is an annual fundraiser that supports the maintenance of the two sober houses over the winter in Caribou, which is where people with substance use disorder go after rehab.
The sober houses are separated by gender. The men’s house at 22 Hammond St., can house seven people, and the women’s house at 15 York St. can house nine. The money also goes to a family therapy group that meets twice a month for six months to help the members of families who are in active recovery free of charge.
“Recovery houses are still a foreign language to some people,” said Missy DeWitt, vice chairperson for Recovery Aroostook who oversees the sober houses. “There’s no national funding for houses.”
There’s one recovery center in Caribou and one in Houlton run by Aroostook Medical Health Services, Inc.
Right now, Aroostook County has no detox centers, but AMHC will open one in Presque Isle in the coming months.
Recovery Aroostook became a registered narcan distributor about two months ago. People can get training for how to use narcan on someone overdosing and get narcan from Recovery Aroostook. About 36 boxes of narcan have been distributed thus far.
“Addiction does not discriminate,” Flagg said. “The best family in the world could have someone who becomes addicted to some substance or another.”
Shortly after Trevor’s death Jamie Allen, mother of Trevor’s children Wyatt and Gracie, helped start the Memorial 5K by reaching out to Recovery Aroostook to put the first event together last year.
One of Trevor’s favorite places while growing up was Mantle Lake park, which is his children’s favorite place now too.
“Every family likely experiences addiction, losing someone with addiction, or someone battling with addiction,” Allen said. “Just be kind and remember that they do matter and they’re someone’s family member.”
The first Trevor Graves Memorial 5K was held last year on September 10 and raised just under $7,000 for the sober houses. Participation was a bit down this year compared to last, but Flagg attributes that to the Labor Day holiday weekend.
Recovery Aroostook formed in 2017. The group accepts donations on its website for the maintenance of the Recovery House, family group facilitator, and other expenses. The sober houses under Recovery Aroostook are certified with the Maine Association for Recovery Residences.
The organization acts as a hub for people who need help getting to recovery and sober houses. They have also helped pay for transportation for people who need help getting to detox centers.
“Everybody was someone’s someone,” DeWitt said. “Every one of those individuals was someone’s son, sister, brother, daughter, husband, wife, and they all mattered.”