ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — On Saturday, Feb. 8 the Third Annual Hub City Classic 5K/10K and 1-mile fun run will be held in Robertsdale to benefit the Jace Waters Foundation for Transitional Living in Alabama.
Julie Waters, who founded the organization in 2017 with the held of her husband Jim and son Jacob, named in memory of son Jace, who died of a heroin overdose in 2016 after years of battling opioid addiction, said with the help of its main fundraiser, the organization has been able to expand and hopes to continue to expand in the future.
“The first year, I think we were just trying to get our feet under us,” she said. “Last year, our numbers doubled and we’re hoping the event will be bigger and better this year.”
The organization was founded, she said, to preserve the memory and provide a lasting legacy for her son, a standout baseball player at Robertsdale High School who was prescribed opioids after suffering an injury while in college.
He would eventually become addicted to opioids, advancing to harder drugs, which led to his death, Julie Waters said.
“The toughest thing for him was being able to transition from a strict program into the real world,” Julie Waters said. “When you’re into a strict program, you have help keeping everything straight, but in the real world, addicts oftentimes just don’t get the support they need.”
Part of their program, she said, is to provide education to release some of the stigma behind addiction and to provide support, or “scholarships” for transitional programs to help in the next phase of the recovery process.
“Part of being a recovering addict is to pay it forward and help others who are recovering,” she said. “That is what Jace wanted, but sadly he was unable to complete that mission, so as a parent, it became my mission. It’s hard and exhausting, which is why not everyone does it, but God and I had a conversation and He helped me see that this is what I need to do.”
And fundraisers like the annual Hub City Classic event are producing results, Julie Waters said. After helping provide “scholarships” for nine men and women in 2018, the organization was able to fund 25 in 2019, helping fund scholarships to programs in Mobile, Pensacola and Birmingham, she said.
“We hope to continue growing and we’re exploring more ways to raise funds,” she said, noting that last year, the organization ran out of funds in October. “It’s heartbreaking when you get a call and realize that you are someone’s last resort and you have to turn them away and tell them to try back in January.”
Waters said the organization’s goal is still to one day build a transitional facility, but that through the scholarship program, they have been able to help more people.
“With a transitional facility, which can cost upwards of half-a-million dollars, you may only be able to help 10 people,” she said. “We were able to help more than 25 people by raising $10,000.”
Waters said she has also partnered with Marcia Grayson to form another organization, “Gulf Coast Families and the Opioid Epidemic,” which has a Facebook page to educate families affected by addiction.
“This is a place where families and go and share their stories of how opioid addiction has affected their lives,” she said. “These are families who have lost a loved one to addiction, families who have a loved one recovering from addition and those who have gone through recovery from addiction.”
The Feb. 8 fundraiser will once again be held at Garrett Park in Robertsdale with start times beginning at 8 a.m. at Garrett Park in Robertsdale.
Pre-registration by Feb. 6 for all three races costs $20 for ages 14 and under, $25 for 15 and older. Race day registration and packet pickup will be held beginning at 7 a.m. at a cost of $25 for 14 and under, $30 for 15 and older.
You can register online at productionsbylittleredhen.com. There is also a link on the foundation’s website, jacewatersfoundation.org, where you can also obtain more information about the organization.