Royce Belsky rallies his sports community around addiction support.
As one of the best high school linebackers in the state of New Hampshire, 5-foot-11, 215-pound senior Royce Belsky knows how to throw his weight around. When it comes to getting people to do good things, however, the quiet athlete with the strong work ethic prefers to lead by example.
Royce has seen the devastating effects of the opioid epidemic in his own community so when Royce was approached by Jacob Parker, the young founder of Victory Over Addiction (VOA), he knew he wanted to help. VOA serves those seeking an enduring recovery from addiction. This includes providing individuals with housing, food and services after the initial recovery process, which reduces relapse rates and allows them to regain control of their lives.
Royce started his work with VOA by going door-to-door last winter, shoveling driveways in the hopes of gathering donations. Like most everybody, Royce found that fundraising was difficult, but he also knew it was an important skill to have. Pretty soon, the pitch was speaking for itself, and he realized, “We didn’t even need to shovel the driveways to get support.”
Inspired, Royce applied to Positive Tracks Challenges Program and, with their help, went on to create the Color Race last October to support for Victory Over Addiction. “I wanted to find a fun way to involve my community and help make a difference in the lives of recovering individuals.”
PERSISTENCE AND THE PERSONAL TOUCH
After strategically choosing a date that did not conflict with a home football game, his next task was finding a place to run the event. When the first three ideas failed, he settled on the loop road around the high school, where participants could choose a 1-mile or 5K course.
Royce used all his resources to promote the event. A friend helped him get his event on Facebook and Positive Tracks helped him easily create a fundraising page. He boosted that with low-tech tactics, like putting up flyers at local businesses, making announcements on the school intercom, putting a press release in local papers, and hanging a huge colorful banner across the main road near the school.
In addition to contacting all the youth sports and cheer teams in the town, Royce personally visited students at his town’s middle and elementary schools. Here, his stature in sports made a huge impact. “I had particular success with younger kids on middle school sports teams,” Royce explains, “because they wanted to participate in an event held by me, the captain of the high school football team.” To sweeten the deal, he offered the winning fundraising team a pizza party. The 6th grade football team won, raising $962. “It was the perfect way to end their football season,” says Royce. “They were pumped to have their pizza party on the last day of practice for the season.”
The Color Race raised more than $8000 for VOA, and will be an annual event. “I was overwhelmed by all the help and willingness to make a difference from my community,” says Royce.
THE LAST WORD
“Addiction really has its grip around the state. There are kids in high school overdosing on drugs. Kids are seeing it firsthand. But it’s different coming from a kid’s perspective. When a kid finally says, ‘all right, enough is enough. We need to step up and do something’, I feel that’s when it’s the tipping point for adults.”
For more information about Victory Over Addiction, please visit: victoryoveraddiction.org