In this issue of Recovery Talk we introduce you to Kristin Hoin, a mom who lost her beautiful daughter, Summer Smith, (herself the mother of three young boys) to the disease of addiction. In the two short years since Summer’s passing, Kristin has become a tireless advocate for recovery and as such, has found a way to turn unimaginable loss into hope for others.

Kristin’s passion as an advocate for Recovery began as she says, “very organically.” Here’s the story as she tells it.

Summer SmithSummer had run her first 5K through a program called STEM – Strong Through Every Mile; a “couch to 5K” program that mentor’s women with a domestic violence past.  Its goal is to empower these women through running and successfully completing a 5k.  Summer crossed the finish line, on a 32 degree day, in snow and sleet, and she had run every step!  I had always been proud of my beautiful daughter, but especially so on that day!

We made plans to begin training together in the spring of 2015, but an accidental overdose took Summer’s life before we could start.  Not long after, I made the decision to train with the STEM group — part volunteer / part newbie runner…and to do it in Summer’s honor. The training and the amazing women living their lives in recovery (most had lived with Summer or at least, knew her) sustained me in the darkest days of my grief and helped me make it through each week.

As I crossed my first 5K finish line at Eliza’s Run, a run put together by a mother who had lost her daughter to domestic violence, I began to think about forming a run to honor Summer and before long, I was a Race Director for the first “Summer’s Run.”

The motto of Summer’s Run is: “Run the Race….Stop the Stigma.” I wanted to share the truth of Summer’s Story…all of it….the good, the bad, and the ugly. I wanted to honor her and all those that have lost their lives to addiction; and I wanted to share the good news of the hope of recovery.

The monies we’ve raised are helping to provide prevention education through the Addictions Care Center of Albany (ACCA) and to provide support to women in recovery residing at the housing program component of Schenectady YWCA.  This year, in an effort to help support and promote a culture of recovery in New York, we’ve added Friends of Recovery – New York (FOR NY) as a third beneficiary. In 2016, we donated more than $13,000 dollars and hope to donate even more this year. This year’s Run will take place on May 13, 2017. You can learn more about the run at our website and sign-up to run, form a team or make a donation here. Ultimately, we want to create a community day that includes the Run, celebrates the memory of those lost to addiction, and simply allows us to come together and have fun sharing the hope of recovery!  At this point, we have an educational vendor fair, a bounce house, and “runs” just for kids; and we’re adding a post-race chicken barbecue this year.Summer Smith 5K

Beyond creating and launching Summer’s Run, the rest of my advocacy journey just unfolded – as these things do. I’ve received requests to share Summer’s Story at a variety of events and I have truly turned this over to God in my life. I am asking him to lead me where he needs me to be and to help me to save lives by sharing her story. Today, I try to do whatever I can when called upon to stand up for recovery. My goal is to advocate for those recovery supports that I believe may have saved Summer’s life had they been in place so many years ago — 15 now — when I received that terrible phone call that Summer was addicted to Heroin.

To date, I have testified at the State Capital and attended FOR-NY Recovery Advocacy day. I’ve spoken at local high schools, an Overdose Awareness Day program and a Heroin Anonymous (HA) meeting. I’ve put together programs at a local church and local high school to share Summer’s Story, spread the hope of recovery, and share information about access to Recovery Support Services.

Most recently, I’ve become involved with GRASP (Grief Recovery After Substance Passing) and am launching the Capital District Chapter later this month.  Our first meeting will held at Christ’s Church in Guilderland, New York on March 29th and monthly thereafter. The only requirement for attendance is that the attendee is grieving the loss of a friend, family member or loved one due to the disease of addiction; not necessarily as the result of an overdose, but rather any type of loss associated with addiction. As the Chapter Director, one of my responsibilities is to vet attendees. Anyone interested in joining us can contact me at [email protected].

Click here to read Summer’s Story, as told by her mom, Kristin Hoin.