- Rick McCrabb Staff Writer
Organizers of “Rising From The Ashes,” held in conjunction of National Recovery Month, are hoping the name recognition of their keynote speaker will bring awareness that no one is immune to drug addiction.
Brandon Novak, 38, a nationally-known professional skateboarder, actor and author, will address his long-time addiction Saturday, Sept. 16, during the fifth annual event in downtown Middletown, said Ron Ward, founder of Celebrating Restoration.
When Novak was 14, he was a professional skateboarder on the Powell Peralta Team, but lost his spot due to what he says was a long bout with “psychoactive substance abuse.”
A former heroin user, Novak has said he was clean for almost four years. Then, he admitted on a national radio show that while he had quit using heroin, he still regularly abused cocaine and pain medication and frequently drank alcohol.
In 2010, he was arrested for an outstanding warrant after being admitted to the hospital after breaking several bones filming a scene for the movie “Jackass 3D.”
He was charged with forging a prescription after he tried to pass a fake prescription for Xanax at a Walgreens in Media, Pa. He was sentenced to 11 to 23 months in prison.
Novak has an “amazing story” to tell, Ward said.
“He had everything going for him and he lost it all to drugs,” said Ward, a recovering addict from Middletown. “This shows that drugs do not discriminate.”
Ward said he hopes Saturday’s event also shows that drug addictions cross social, racial and gender boundaries. No one, he said, is exempt from the affects of addiction.
Ward, who founded the group in 2013, estimates he has lost 20 friends to addictions. He has attended more funerals than weddings.
“It’s challenging,” he said of working with those seeking treatment. “Not everyone is going to make it. They must have a willingness to surrender. It’s up to the individual to decide.”
Besides Novak, Middletown Mayor Larry Mulligan and the city’s Health Director Jackie Phillips are expected to talk about addiction and how the city is dealing with the heroin epidemic, Ward said.
Entertainment will also be provided by Altered, a band from Stratford Heights Church of God.