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Racing to save lives

A fundraiser to save lives and help those struggling with addiction will be held in Suffolk once again this October.

The second annual StrongWILL Fun Run and Walk will be held in the Driver community on Oct. 21 during the Driver Days festival. Registration on-site will begin at 7 a.m. The 5K race along the Seaboard Coastline Trail will begin at 8 a.m., and the one-mile walk for both children and adults will begin at 8:15 a.m. Medals and prizes will be offered after the races.

Proceeds will be donated to the Suffolk Police Department to aid in buying automated external defibrillators — each estimated to cost $1,431 — for patrol cars.

More than 350,000 people suffer from sudden cardiac arrests annually, according to redcross.org, and the chance of survival is reduced by approximately 10 percent for each minute defibrillation is delayed.

“If it helps brings someone home to their family, then we’re more than happy to help,” said nonprofit founder and president April Brooks.

Brooks founded StrongWILL in memory of her brother, William West, who died last year from a heroin overdose. The organization raises awareness about drug addiction and helps people struggling with addiction by raising money for local organizations that provide resources for addicts and their families.

“I really want people to know that we can make a difference,” Brooks said.

This year’s event is sponsored by Virginia Clinical Research Inc. and Arnett Services. Chick-fil-A food will be provided, and T-shirts by Embroidery & Print House of Suffolk are part of the registration package while supplies last. There will also be merchandise for sale.

Brooks said more than $6,000 has been raised and 157 people have registered for the event as of Monday. Many registered as teams in honor of a loved one lost to addiction.

The event allows loved ones to be honored, not judged by others with stereotypes about addicts.

“People say negative things, and I think some forget that they’re actually human too,” Brooks said. “I think the race brings people together to talk about their loved ones and let them know they’re not alone.”

Visit strongwillevents.org or facebook.com/strongwillevents.org for more information.