'A mission to give back': Oakwood 24 comes to a successful close Sunday

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The weekend's weather changes, from warmth to rain to cooler temperatures, couldn't stop the concept established by ultramarathoner Jon Frey. Frey is grateful for the assistance he got four years ago from Healing Transitions that led to his recovery from alcoholism and substance use.

Frey founded the Oakwood 24 fundraiser, 24 hours spent running 100+ miles in Raleigh's historic Oakwood Cemetery.

"Kinda just a mission to give back, and just enjoy and fellowship with everybody who comes out here to run, participate and support the recovery community," said Frey.

Chris Budnick, the executive director of Healing Transitions, was one of the runners and appreciates the support Frey's provided for the people who have run the Oakwood 24 over the years.

"And that's much like the process of recovery. The people that you have to help carry you along, provide support is an important part of recovery and certainly needed for this event, for somebody to go for 24 hours," Budnick said.

While not everyone runs for all 24 hours, Frey does.

"Well, you kind of just take it mile by mile, lap by lap, and try not to think about the overall situation of running 24 hours," said Frey. "So you just bite it off in little chunks and say, 'I'm going to run the next lap.' And you don't really think about the next lap until you're done with one."

"For each lap I do, I've got the name of somebody who passed away written on my leg. So each lap I'm at with the name, it's moments of reflection for those losses and moments of gratitude for those in recovery today. "said Budnick.

This weekend's response was especially gratifying for participants and organizers who spent the time running on their way to raising $125,000 to support the nonprofit's work.

"Last year was a little bit challenging with COVID, so we're really excited to be here," said Budnick. "We have so much support from people out here either running, walking, riding. It's really great."

"It's fun! I love to run, and I'm passionate about recovery. So it's just fun and easy to be out here, enjoying company with everyone," said Frey.

The money raised by the Oakwood 24 helps Healing Transitions assist underserved and unhoused people who are struggling to recover from their own addictions.
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