Why We Run: The Mission Behind this Year’s York White Rose Run

By Karen Hendricks for the York Road Runners Club

Vickie Glatfelter with her son Bob

Vickie Glatfelter is on a mission. The 57-year old Dover woman wants to change the stigma associated with addiction.

“Addicts are people just like you and I. We thought we had a normal family—we never dreamed addiction could be something our family would deal with,” she says.

“I wish people would become more educated and remember they’re somebody’s son or daughter. That person could be your child or relative. When it hits home, it’s a whole different story.”

Glatfelter knows about addiction first-hand, because her son Bob struggled with addiction for seven years. Prescription drugs turned into heroin. And in 2014 the addiction turned into an overdose.

“When it happened, no one was talking about addiction; Narcan wasn’t available to the public,” says Glatfelter. Her son, 28 at the time, had just gotten out of rehab for the fourth or fifth time.

“I became addicted to his addiction because every day I fought to keep my kid alive. I know the pain and anguish…I don’t want others to have to go through it,” she says.

“No mother raises their son to be an addict. My son was quiet, with a huge heart, a beautiful smile, always willing to help others. Growing up he was a typical boy, fishing, hunting, and playing three sports all through school,” she remembers.

Vickie Glatfelter and family (husband Bob, Vickie, son Bob, daughter Kayla)

Five years have passed since her son’s death and during those five years she founded the nonprofit Not One More (NOM), York Chapter, along with fellow mom Alyssa Turner, whose son is in recovery. NOM, with chapters nationwide, is dedicated to raising awareness and preventing drug abuse of any type through education and community partnerships.

Fundraising and donations have increased every year, with about $80,000 raised last year. All of the money stays in York County to help families struggling with addiction, expenses and more. Five original board members turned into 10; everyone associated with Not One More is a volunteer. Glatfelter has built up to 30-40 speaking engagements per year. In the past four years, the advocacy organization has given away about 2,500 Narcan kits—the nasal spray that can reverse an opioid overdose.

And those running this year’s York White Rose Run on September 28: Your steps are also helping York County residents and families taking steps towards recovery. Not One More is the race’s charity partner, so after race-related costs are met, proceeds will be donated to the nonprofit. Runners also have the option of making a direct donation when they sign up for the YWRR.

“Being the race’s charity partner…it’s very humbling,” says Glatfelter. “I remember the first time someone gave me a check for $100, I cried. It’s about people recognizing that we’re trying to do something. They believe in us, they feel that we’re a worthwhile organization. I don’t do it for the recognition, but I do it for all the other Bobs out there.”

So far in 2019, 78 people have lost their lives to a confirmed or suspected heroin/fentanyl overdose in York County. The county typically ranks third in the state in terms of opioid-rated deaths. Still, Glatfelter says the county and community are making great strides.

“There are great facilities, all working and helping each other, from the county government to the police departments and recovery houses,” Glatfelter says. She sits on the York County Opioid Collaborative Board and York County Recovery Committee.

Sometimes it’s difficult for an addict to afford the intake fee required to commit themselves to a recovery house. That’s why Not One More began a scholarship program to help people take that first step into rehab. In 2018, the organization made it possible for 200 people to launch their recoveries. Sadly, Not One More also provides donations to families who need help with funeral expenses. When a loved one overdoses, there’s no life insurance.

Glatfelter, who devoted most of her previous career to office work, says she found her purpose in life with NOM.

“Sometimes it makes me very sad that we have to be here, because that means many more people are struggling,” Glatfelter says. “But it also makes me happy to know that I’m helping. This work made me find that underlying part of my heart.”

Click here to sign up for the 42nd York White Rose Run, set for Saturday, September 28. This unique event is not only one of the region’s oldest running traditions, but it’s one of the area’s only 5-mile races.

The course highlights the city’s personality, starting on Beaver Street near York Central Market House, winding through the city. Keep an eye and ear out for a drumline along the way, plus the lilting sounds of a bagpiper to help you up the hill in Farquhar Park. Then there’s a fast finish down Beaver Street to the White Rose Bar & Grill where participants can enjoy a post-race party with a free beer and sandwich plus live music.

It’s five miles of fun—and for a great cause.

We all know runners like to plan ahead, so be sure to save this date too: NOM’s largest fundraiser is its annual 5K Walk/Run for Recovery, held at John Rudy County Park. More than 1,200 people signed up in 2019; the 5th annual run is set for Saturday, May 16, 2020.

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