A record 250 people gathered at the Best Western Plus Lamplighter Inn & Conference Centre on the morning of Wednesday, September 26th for the fourth annual Recovery Breakfast. Mission Services of London partnered with Addiction Services of Thames Valley, The Salvation Army and Turning Point Inc., to bring this meeting to fruition. This was a unique and important opportunity to break bread together and hear inspiring stories from individuals who have overcome tremendous obstacles and come out on top.
Opening remarks were heard from Justice Wayne Rabley, a successful criminal lawyer for 25 years before his appointment to the bench in London in 2009. He spoke of his experiences hearing cases involving drug and alcohol charges. “Inside all of them, remains a flicker of hope,” he said.
Next, Adrienne P. approached the podium. With a nervous smile, she timidly began to speak, detailing the journey which had led her to this very place. Raised in London, she excelled in school, graduating from high school with honours and moving on to post graduate studies in Canada, Europe and the United States. While living in Boston, a traumatic experience caused a swift turn into the world of drugs. At times, she seemed near tears as she recounted days spent searching for that all important high. “I spent the entire day doing whatever I could to get that pill,” she said. “And then, the next morning, it started all over again.”
Adrienne used humour as well as heart felt emotion to engage the audience, closing with a sincere thank you to all of those who have helped along the way.
Next, Rob C. approached the mic, detailing a life riddled with drugs and plagued with unfortunate circumstances. “This disease is all consuming,” he said. “I became everything I said I’d never be and I did everything I said I’d never do.” Rob credited Quintin Warner House with teaching him some of the tools that he still uses today. He also gave thanks to those who had dedicated their time and energy to helping him including our own Jim Henderson from CMHP who was in the room to graciously accept his praise.
Jon DeActis, Director of Quintin Warner House took to the stage to introduce the Guest of Honour – Rob Ramage. Ramage was born in London, playing hockey for the London Knights from 1975 – 1978. In 1979 he was the first overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft to the Colorado Rockies. During his career, Ramage played on 8 NHL teams, winning 2 Stanley cups and playing in four NHL All-Star games. He has coached with the St. Louis Blues and the London Knights as well as other pursuits.
On December 15, 2003, his life was forever changed. Ramage was driving former Chicago Blackhawks captain Keith Magnuson when his car swerved into oncoming traffic, colliding with another vehicle. Magnuson was killed, the other driver was injured. Ramage was tried and convicted of impaired driving causing death. He was sent to prison, a place he never thought his charmed life would take him. “Prison was a terrible place,” he told the crowd. A gifted speaker, he led us through his ordeal, always giving credit to the incredible support system which sustained him.
After serving his sentence, he ended up back in London, living in a half way house, and working for the London Knights. “My hope was that the players would see [where I had to live], and realize what could happen.” he said. To Ramage, imparting a lesson as hard as that, “is better than any memorial cup I could have won,” he explains.
Ramage also paid homage to the many people who work on the front lines of rehabilitation programs, detox centres, clinics and shelters. “I admire you, I commend you and I thank you.” he said.
“Those who work with the struggling members of our community every day were brought to the foreground this morning,” said Mary Brown, Development Officer at Mission Services of London “The impact they have was clearly displayed as was the courage of those who are still struggling, but toward a better path.”