A few years ago I worked with a man who would end up being one of my best friends in the world. We were livin’ large in college athletics, he a fundraiser, me a publicity guy. We were traveling the world watching ball games for a living. It was great.
Our paths diverged along the way, but we kept in touch and whenever possible, met up for a weekend getaway to watch a baseball game or three … and drink a cocktail or three. It seemed like whenever we got together, we did what boys do … we drank. I have a taste for good Kentucky bourbon, as did he. Neither of us ever really got out of control, or so we thought, so we never saw a problem with what we were doing.
My friend wound up facing a drunk driving charge (unrelated to one of our nights out, to my knowledge) and was told by the judge that he’d better get his life together. He lost his job and got frowned upon by the old boy network of athletic fundraising because he’d done the one thing they weren’t allowed to do: get caught.
Thank the good Lord, he came out of rehab a changed man. He went back to college athletic fundraising and, after a few short months, quit. He told me the environment there was so predicated on drinking and hob-nobbing with donors at the bar that he couldn’t stay sober and do what he was so good at doing. He walked away from a career.
In the meantime, he was going to his weekly meetings, even conducting some and serving as a counselor to others who were addicted. He went health crazy and started running marathons, drinking pineapple juice and all sorts of other things that he and I both would have made fun of just a few short years before.
I was proud as hell of him.
And then he made a new career choice that put that pride to shame. He decided to go back to school, earn a degree in counseling and be a drug and alcohol counselor, for real. As part of that training, he spent some volunteer time recently at The Healing Place here in Louisville. He is investing his life in turning other people’s lives around.
You call me a rock star? Bullshit. He’s a rock star. I’m just a dumb guy with a blog.
When I found out The Healing Place was trying to drive 120,000 individuals to donate just $10 each by year’s end to help support it’s better-than-the-national average recovery rate and service the addicted and afflicted in my community, I knew I had to share this story.
And my friend didn’t tell me about the effort. The Healing Place is a pro-bono client of Doe-Anderson, my former agency. They asked if I would point folks to a good cause for the holiday season, which I’m always happy to do. Little did they know this one had a stronger connection for me.
Not only did I take the place of 10 people and donate $100 to the cause, but I’m going to give my friend something he probably wasn’t expecting.
I’m going to stop drinking, too.
You read that right. Jason Falls is pledging to not be Mr. Bourbon anymore. And yeah, I’m going to need your help to do that. But not more than the help you can give The Healing Place this holiday season.
It’s $10. And it’s going to make a world of difference for a lot of people.
It sure has for my friend.