Facing Addiction With NCADD Honored Joe And Marjorie Walsh, And Matthew And Jennifer Harris, At Their Annual Gala, Monday October 8 At New York's Iconic Rainbow Room

Honors Were Presented By Sir Ringo Starr, Lady Barbara Bach Starkey, And Adebayo Ogunlesi, With Keynote Remarks From Boston Mayor Marty Walsh And Tribute Performances By Vince Gill And Michael McDonald     

NEW YORK, Oct. 10, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Today is National Mental Health Awareness Day, and so it was fitting to begin this week with the Annual Benefit Gala for Facing Addiction with NCADD. The Gala celebrated recovery and raised awareness around issues pertaining to addiction to alcohol and other drugs, and honored individuals whose outstanding efforts have contributed so much to the cause. Honorees included Joe Walsh and Marjorie Bach Walsh, for their decades of service helping individuals and families recover from addiction, as well as their unwavering support getting Facing Addiction off the ground — with a history-making launch on the National Mall in October, 2015 — propelling the organization to the forefront of the national discourse in the news and halls of Congress. Also honored were Global Infrastructure Partners Founding Partner, Matthew Harris, and his wife, Jennifer, of the Bedari Foundation, for their outstanding work in the field of mental health and addiction.

Facing Addiction with NCADD had a star-studded turn-out, befitting the iconic setting of the Rainbow Room in New York City's landmark Rockefeller Plaza.  Sir Ringo Starr and Lady Barbara Bach Starkey were there to present the "Humanitarian Award" to family members Joe Walsh and Marjorie Bach Walsh.  Ringo and Barbara spoke eloquently about their own recovery journey, thanking the speakers before them. Ringo said, "…facing addiction - if you don't have it you won't understand how that is. I know there a lot of people that could use the support and help that Barbara and I were lucky enough to receive, and that's why we are all here today, not only to honor Joe and Marjorie but to help the addict and alcoholic." Barbara added "We are so proud to be here tonight and honor my sister Marjorie and Joe, who have been supporters of Facing Addiction with NCADD from the very start. Marjorie has always been a force of nature, full of energy, and I've been so proud to watch her in her recovery, and all she and Joe do to help addicts and alcoholics."

Upon receiving the award Marjorie spoke first, before introducing her husband, and said, "I want to thank my sister and brother in law for coming this evening and from my heart thank you to my family for facing addiction with us –we trudge this road together and as a result our lives are better for that.  I want to thank Facing Addiction with NCADD for their great work, we have to and we are battling this disease of addiction together." Joe, in his trademark humor, began, "Thank you, I didn't think anyone would come!"  He went on to share his own story, concluding, "I've been sober for 25 years.  I decided to drop my anonymity because most of the world knew I was a mess anyway and go public and speak out and try and help others (struggling with addiction) because that is what we do. Thank you."

Also present were Olivia Harrison, Steven and Maureen Van Zandt, Simon Kirke, American jewelry designer Loree Rodkin, Wendy Williams and Kevin Hunter, and American menswear designer John and Joyce Varvatos. John Varvatos generously donated a surprise new T-shirt design commemorating Joe Walsh as an, "Ordinary Average Survivor," to benefit the work of the nonprofit. This is the first time a major fashion brand has partnered with this cause to create a designer T-Shirt to raise awareness for addiction and recovery.

The City of Boston Mayor, Marty Walsh, made a special trip from Boston to attend and delivered a riveting and personal keynote about the impact of being open as an elected official about his own journey to recovery from addiction. Jim Dolan, chairman and CEO of Madison Square Garden Company, served as Gala Host Chair for the evening and introduced the live musical performances featuring Vince Gill, Michael McDonald, and Butch Walker, who performed stirring tributes to Joe Walsh, and who convinced the guitar legend to join them on stage and close out the evening with an all-star jam on two of his classic hits - "Life In The Fast Lane" and "Life's Been Good".

Also in the audience was director and filmmaker Peter Hedges, whose soon-to-be released film, Ben Is Back, starring Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges, is a compelling look at one family's struggle with a national epidemic, and directs filmgoers in its closing credits to the Addiction Resource Hub, on Facing Addiction with NCADD's website, to find local resources.

Jim Hood, CEO of Facing Addiction with NCADD, also spoke, delivering heartfelt commentary regarding the death of his son, Austin, to opioids six years ago, and the dire need for more addiction prevention and treatment at every level.  Hood said, "Austin's  death fueled my passion to spare others what my family went through, and in no small way informs our work.  The people in this room, tonight, can change the course of history for addiction in America, and create an indelible legacy. It's too late for Austin, but we can save the next generation of our children."

Mr Hood also outlined the great work their organization is doing in service of that goal. For example, last month Facing Addiction with NCADD announced the Addiction Recovery Medical Home (ARMH) model, an Alternative Payment Model (APM) engineered to provide patients with a long-term, comprehensive, and integrated pathway to treatment and recovery. 

Ivana Grahovac, Director of Advancement for Facing Addiction with NCADD, served as the evening's MC, and spoke about being in recovery from heroin addiction for over 13 years. Grahovac said, "We know and feel that people with addiction are worth saving, they are worth our energy and efforts. We need you all to help us lift addiction and recovery out of the shadows and turn the tide on this crisis. Tonight we are going to focus on the solutions."

Tyler Kaplan, a member of the Facing Addiction Young Leadership team, shared his story of growing up in a home where his mother was addicted, but eventually found recovery. Kaplan said, "It wasn't until I was introduced to the Young Leadership Program of Facing Addiction that I found a place where I could be proud of my story. Those meetings became my safe-haven — the place where I could be myself. I took these lessons with me into the real world. I no longer felt the shame of having a mother who is in recovery from addiction — she was just another person who suffered and is now recovering from this horrible disease."

About Facing Addiction with NCADD (The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence): Is a national non-profit organization is dedicated to unifying the voices of the more than 45 million Americans and their families directly impacted by addiction, bringing together the best resources in the field in order to reduce the human and social costs of addiction, every year, until this public health crisis is eliminated.

#FacingAddictionNYC #MentalHealthAwarenessDay

To learn more, visit www.facingaddiction.org or find us on Facebook/Twitter @FacingAddiction.

Elizabeth Freund

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