The Rosecrance Foundation set the ball in motion November 9, 2017 at its first ever Champaign Benefit, themed Hoops, Help & Hope. Chris Herren, a former NBA player in recovery, shared his story of descent into addiction, miraculous recovery and a new life mission with nearly 200 attendees.
Herren has been sober for nine years and during an interview on SHOWTIME in 2014, Herren explained, “Behind a 20 ounce beer for a guy like me is an eight-ball of cocaine, a bundle of heroin… I’m not wired where I can just drink a 20 ounce beer and walk away. So I walked through it.”
He added, “If you looked at me six years ago you wouldn’t have bet on me. I think some people would bet on me today.”
At the Benefit, Herren told moving and honest stories about how drugs impacted his mental health, his career and ultimately his relationships with his family. But, he made it clear that, “addiction isn’t a death sentence…The bad days are lessons and in those lessons we find our silver linings and make peace with the rest of it.”
He added, “The people behind Rosecrance and what they’ve created save people like me. And when you save someone like me, you save everyone who loves them too.”
Herren struggled with a variety of substances including alcohol, cocaine and heroin. Shockingly, he shared that 7 former team mates from his high school team also started using heroin. His keynote presentation was particularly relevant because heroin use in Champaign-Urbana more than doubled between 2007 and 2012, rising to 13 percent.
The Benefit also included a meet and greet with Herren for all attendees, a reception with appetizers, a door prize, video screening, dinner and speeches from Rosecrance staff and board members.
Rosecrance President/CEO Phil Eaton explained that since opening, the Rosecrance Champaign-Urbana location has provided help for 3,000 people with mental health disorders and 400 people with substance use disorders. Proceeds from the benefit will enable Rosecrance to expand access to substance abuse and mental health treatment within the Champaign-Urbana area.