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2023 Freedom Award Honorees – Get to Know Them!

Samuel C. Wheeler Freedom Award

Izzy Alvarado, Go The Distance

Today, Izzy is the epitome of a ‘sponsor.’ His giving and generous personality lead him, alongside his friend and colleague Alyssa Halbisen, to start Go the Distance (GTD), a nonprofit organization that advocates for sobriety through fitness and unity.

Izzy has been a passionate and dedicated runner since 1997 and he ran his first 5K on the 50th anniversary of the famous UFO landing in Roswell, New Mexico. He found the power of running when he first put on a pair of running shoes. Shortly after, in 2004, he began his recovery journey. Running has been a critical part of his sobriety and has helped him through challenging relapses. In 2017, however, Izzy’s life changed course and found that running would, yet again, empower him to answer his calling and serve his community in even bigger ways.

On the first day he took clients out running at Fora Health, he was truly moved by their desire and willingness to run and develop healthier habits. They needed to leave the building, get some fresh air, and exercise, but didn’t have the necessary running gear or anybody to take them. One simple post on Facebook asking for shoe donations lit the spark that led to Go The Distance.

Since launching its first run with Fora Health patients in 2019, Go the Distance (GTD) has grown to work in four treatment facilities in the Portland area – Fora Health, CODA Treatment Recovery, Volunteers of America (VOA) Oregon and Cielo Treatment Center. Lead by compassion and a desire to build unity, Izzy and the Go The Distance team lead the charge in uniting the Portland area treatment centers through running activities to create a broader recovery community. Their core value of abolishing barriers to movement allows for those interested to receive the tools necessary to incorporate physical activity into their recovery journey.

As the Co-Founder and Executive Director of GTD, Izzy has garnered awareness and support from local and international organizations and has become a pillar in the recovery community. He has been integral to the Walk 4 Recovery (Oregon Recovers) and multiple 5k runs (Multnomah County). He and the GTD team have worked with the Fora staff to raise funds for the past three years to buy Christmas gifts for the patient’s children.

Izzy says GTD has been a road to recovery through service. He found that he was able to share his love and enthusiasm for running with incredible people and help guide them on their quest for sobriety.

The Samuel C. Wheeler Freedom Award is an honor given to those who help battle the stigma of addiction by sharing their story of recovery and giving back to the community in meaningful ways.

 

Spirit of Recovery Advocacy Award

The Honorable Judge Nan Waller, Multnomah County Circuit Court

Judge Waller was appointed to the Multnomah County Circuit Court bench in 2001. She served as Presiding Judge for 6 years. She currently is the Mental Health Court Judge and manages the competency docket for the court.

Judge Waller Co-Chairs the Chief Justice’s Behavioral Health Advisory Council and chairs the Mental Health Subcommittee of the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council. Judge Waller served as a member of the Criminal Justice Workgroup of the National Judicial Task Force to Examine State Courts’ Response to Mental Illness. She previously served on the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet. Judge Waller currently serves on the Board of Lines for Life, a non-profit dedicated to preventing substance abuse and suicide and promoting mental health.

Judge Waller has received numerous awards for her work on the bench and in the community including the National CASA Judge of the Year award, the Classroom Law Project’s Legal Citizen of the Year award, NAMI Oregon’s Gordon and Sharon Smith New Freedom Award, and most recently the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence.

The Advocacy Award honors those who help foster healthy communities by demonstrating outspoken support for addiction treatment access and quality.

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