There was a huge procession of motorcyclists roaring through the downtown core on Saturday working to raise awareness about addiction recovery treatment.
The participants were all riding for the Fresh Start Recovery Centre's 11th annual 12 Stop Ride for Recovery motorcycle rally.
"We really want people to know that recovery is real, it is attainable and it is sustainable," said Stacey Petersen, Executive Director of Fresh Start Recovery Centre. "The message we want to put out to people is; there’s always hope."
The ride covers 400 km, with stops at a number of locations including WinSport and the Stoney Nakoda Resort and Casino. At those stops, participants are invited engage in a number of different activities including live entertainment, food and the chance to win some great prizes.
Petersen says the event has a great deal of support among motorcycle riders.
"They all come out to support because they know that the community has been deeply affected by addiction."
Petersen said it’s also very encouraging to see so many people supporting the event to help break the stigma of addiction.
"If we can have those conversations around our kitchen tables, if we can have those genuine conversations fearlessly and talk about solutions, I think we’re winning."
He adds addiction affects people from all walks of life and socio-economic backgrounds.
"Addiction does not discriminate, it doesn’t care where you come from."
According to recent studies, more than 70 per cent of Albertans who have died from opioid overdoses were employed, lived in the suburbs, and were at home alone when they overdosed.
"We have people here in recovery that have decades of clean time, business leaders in our community in recovery, family members, recovery is absolutely possible."
All of the money raised through the event goes to support the Fresh Start Recovery Centre. Petersen says just two per cent of the annual operating fund comes from Alberta Health Services while the difference is made up through donations and fundraisers.
The agency has been operating in Calgary for 27 years.