Former NBA player Chris Herren delivered a powerful message about addiction and recovery on Oct. 7 as part of Rosecrance’s first-ever Chicago benefit fundraiser.
The inaugural event at the Westin Michigan Avenue Hotel raised more than $250,000 for Rosecrance Lakeview, an outpatient clinic and recovery residence for young adults under construction at 3701 N. Ashland Ave. in Chicago.
Herren captivated the audience with his personal story, a heartbreaking tale of realizing his dream of playing basketball for the Boston Celtics only to see his success overshadowed by his struggles with substance abuse. Herren has been sober for seven years and has devoted his life to helping educate children, teenagers, adults and families about addiction through his nonprofit, The Herren Project. He also runs a basketball player development company called Hoop Dreams.
“I am who I am because of people like you, people who are willing to give second chances, third chances, fourth chances,” Herren told the crowd. “I am a dad, a husband, a friend, a son. I stand on this stage seven years sober, the greatest accomplishment of my life. But none of it would be possible if it wasn’t for the people who work in this community. … Thank you from the bottom of my heart for caring enough and stepping up for kids who need (help), just like I did.”
Herren’s message underscored the importance of Rosecrance’s efforts to create a culture of recovery in Lakeview. Rosecrance President/CEO Philip Eaton highlighted that need: Sixty percent of Rosecrance’s clients at its residential treatment facilities in Rockford come from the Chicago area, and a majority of those clients are younger than age 30.
“Too often, the path to a successful future is blocked by substance abuse, which will derail life goals at lightning speed. Most of us have seen it happen,” Eaton said. “I’m in the fortunate position, however, of seeing how treatment can change and save these young lives.
“Almost every day, I hear about someone who is embracing the life that was waiting for him or her on the other side of addiction. That’s what we do at Rosecrance, and we renew our commitment to our mission of help, hope and recovery every single day.”
Guests heard recovery stories from three Rosecrance alumni in a compelling video played during the benefit. Before lunch, benefactors had the opportunity to spend some personal time with Herren. Attendees gave Herren a standing ovation after his strong presentation.
“We are thrilled with the enthusiasm and support for our first fundraising benefit in the heart of Chicago, and we’re excited to build on the momentum for next year,” said Anne Boccignone, Rosecrance’s vice president of development.