For those struggling with addiction, exercise offers hope for a sober future.
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Anyone affected by substance abuse knows that knowledge of the problem alone can’t help beat the disease.

For Todd Crandell, it took three drunken driving charges and 13 years of consequences to decide to get sober despite that he lost both his mom and uncle to addiction.

Crandell's mugshot. Image via Racing for Recovery.


He knew that turning things around wouldn’t be easy, as it often isn’t when we rely on something to help us function or, ironically, escape. Facing the world with wounds open and learning to live life all over again is no easy task.

So how did he do it? He stopped running from himself and started running toward something more meaningful.

Image via Racing for Recovery.

There’s plenty of evidence that points to the benefits of fitness for preventing relapse, with preliminary studies noting that regular exercise leads to better health outcomes for those susceptible to substance abuse. It's also known to help tackle stress, anxiety, and depression, all challenges associated with recovery.

There are a lot of theories as to why it works. It could be the social component, the distraction it offers — boredom is the enemy of sobriety after all — or the neurobiological impact (ever hear of a "runner’s high"?).

"Not only does it help improve our physical condition, it is a mental, spiritual, and emotional enhancer as well ... it also helps to reduce cravings for drugs early in addiction," Crandell says.

It’s a path many have taken; an addictive personality can thrive when pushing limits and enduring physical intensity.

Image via Racing for Recovery.

Determined to take a different route, Crandell looked for healthy outlets to sustain him and invested his energy in a healthier lifestyle, with physical fitness being a major part of his recovery.

The chemical rewards of exercise can be an amazing rush and help boost self-confidence, too.

"With each step, pedal of bike, or swim stroke, or doing yoga, I am improving physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually," he explains. "It allows me to be my best for myself and others."

It was after his fourth Ironman triathlon in New Zealand that Crandell caught the attention of local press. "The response was overwhelming," he says.

Image via Racing for Recovery.

Realizing he was onto something, he literally ran with it, starting a nonprofit called Racing for Recovery in 2001.

The organization aims to prevent substance abuse by promoting a healthy lifestyle for people affected by addiction.

"I get to help both recovering people and their families," he shares, "and to watch heartbreaking situations evolve into healing is awesome."

In the years since its founding, Racing for Recovery has evolved. The organization hosts 10 support groups weekly, 5Ks and 10Ks galore (running or walking, whichever is your speed), social events for connecting with others in recovery, educational groups, counseling, film screenings, and much more.

At the heart of it all? A passion for health, a commitment to recovery, and Crandell’s determination to help others find both.

Image via Racing for Recovery.

"If I can do this, so can you," Crandell says.

"Asking for help is not weakness, but rather it is giving yourself the opportunity to live the sober life you deserve."

Crandell hopes the organization will grow from here. Residential housing is in the works, programming continues to expand, and he wants to bring the approach to other cities and countries where it’s needed.

Crandell has seen firsthand the transformative power of fitness for those struggling with addiction and trauma — something he’s both lived as a survivor and witnessed as a licensed chemical dependency counselor and licensed professional clinical counselor.

Image via Racing for Recovery.

Substance abuse is an incredible challenge, one that millions of adults face every day in this country. Even so, Crandell’s journey is undeniable proof that there’s still hope and that dependency isn’t destiny.

The first step is often the most difficult. But for Crandell, that first step has taken him all around the world, affecting countless lives along the way. If that’s not a reason to be hopeful, I don’t know what is.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

This article originally appeared on 12.02.19


Just imagine being an 11-year-old boy who's been shuffled through the foster care system. No forever home. No forever family. No idea where you'll be living or who will take care of you in the near future.

Then, a loving couple takes you under their care and chooses to love you forever.

What could one be more thankful for?

That's why when a fifth grader at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills, Utah was asked by his substitute teacher what he's thankful for this Thanksgiving, he said finally being adopted by his two dads.

via OD Action / Twitter

To the child's shock, the teacher replied, "that's nothing to be thankful for," and then went on a rant in front of 30 students saying that "two men living together is a sin" and "homosexuality is wrong."

While the boy sat there embarrassed, three girls in the class stood up for him by walking out of the room to tell the principal. Shortly after, the substitute was then escorted out of the building.

While on her way out she scolded the boy, saying it was his fault she was removed.

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One of the boy's parents-to-be is Louis van Amstel, is a former dancer on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." "It's absolutely ridiculous and horrible what she did," he told The Salt Lake Tribune. "We were livid. It's 2019 and this is a public school."

The boy told his parents-to-be he didn't speak up in the classroom because their final adoption hearing is December 19 and he didn't want to do anything that would interfere.

He had already been through two failed adoptions and didn't want it to happen again.

via Loren Javier / Flickr

A spokesperson for the Alpine School District didn't go into detail about the situation but praised the students who spoke out.

"Fellow students saw a need, and they were able to offer support," David Stephenson said. "It's awesome what happened as far as those girls coming forward."

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He also said that "appropriate action has been taken" with the substitute teacher.

"We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate behavior and take these matters very seriously," Kelly Services, the school the contracts out substitute teachers for the district, said in a statement. "We conduct business based on the highest standards of integrity, quality, and professional excellence. We're looking into this situation."

After the incident made the news, the soon-to-be adoptive parents' home was covered in paper hearts that said, "We love you" and "We support you."

Religion is supposed to make us better people.

But what have here is clearly a situation where a woman's judgement about what is good and right was clouded by bigoted dogma. She was more bothered by the idea of two men loving each other than the act of pure love they committed when choosing to adopt a child.