By the numbers, Sandra Huffman’s June-to-September walk from South Florida up the East Coast amounted to 786 miles, more than 1,000 unforgettable people met, and 500 business cards amassed. Yet the value of the experience clearly was beyond measure.
“Recovery-wise, it was an amazing journey,” says Huffman, an intern with the In the Rooms global recovery community who on June 11 left Fort Lauderdale with $1,100 and a dream to give back and to heighten awareness of recovery. “Every bit of this was worth it.”
As we reported in this space in June, Huffman had planned to walk from South Florida to Philadelphia in just over two months, but funding constraints and some mean East Coast weather that included “ear-popping funnel clouds” and “Biblical downpours” cut that effort short in the Washington, D.C., area. Still, Huffman was able to attend the signature Recovery Month event in Philadelphia on Sept. 24, with a cheering crowd greeting her appearance at that day’s rally.
Huffman, who herself found sobriety five years ago with the help of a 90-day in-custody treatment program in Florida, says she found an incredible openness among the many people she met this summer. She attended recovery meetings, discovered resource agencies that toil out of the limelight, and broke bread at homeless shelters.
She and her son are now staying with her brother in Pennsylvania, as she looks for work while also hoping to raise money to buy an RV to serve as transportation and shelter for the next journey she has planned. In the Rooms continues to assist Huffman with fundraising, she says.
More than anything, the walk demonstrated to Huffman the value of the variety of services and supports that remain active for persons in recovery. “They’re cutting all this funding, the government, but why are these organizations even around? Because there’s such a huge need,” she says.