Some 70 balloons were released just outside of Manhattan’s Fire Station Headquarters at Kimball and Denison shortly before noon Friday. The event was part of a local recognition of National Recovery Month, and followed a moving presentation about recovery, from Audra Akin, who was born and raised right here in Manhattan. Akin shared the ups and downs of her recovery process.
She came from a loving family right here in Manhattan, was active in sports all through high school, and graduated with honors at Emporia State Teacher’s college, and during exit exams, scored in the top 15 per cent of the nation in a principals of learning and teaching exam. But as alcohol and eventually crack/cocaine became an important part of her life, she finally hit her bottom…
Akin talked about getting in trouble with law enforcement–but coming to where she is now, living with her children and parents. She told the group if she can do this and make a change, anyone can make a change–but she says that individual has to believe he or she is worth it.
Each balloon has a toll-free number message inside for those who might come across the balloons when they come down. and see it as a sign for help. A lunch followed the balloon launch.
Riley County Commission Chair Karen McCulloh was present for the event, saying it was good for people take part and to speak out openly. Pawnee Mental Health Executive Director Robbin Cole reminded those gathered that substance use and mental disorders are something we must all be concerned about, with most of not having to look very far to find people in our lives affected by substance use or mental disorders.
Following is an excerpt of Akins presentation, which received a standing ovation: