Run or walk for StrongWILL

Published 7:13 pm Thursday, August 26, 2021

The sixth annual StrongWILL Charity race will take place at 7:30 a.m. Oct. 16 at the Suffolk Seaboard Coastline trailhead in Driver prior to the Driver Days Festival later that morning.

The first 100 participants to register will receive a medal. Those who register by Sept. 18 will receive a StrongWILL T-shirt. In addition, there will be light refreshments, and each child attending will receive a prize. There will also be prizes for the adults, too.

StrongWILL is an all-volunteer, 501c3 organization that raises money for local organizations that support those struggling with addiction and their families. Each year, the organization chooses a different local establishment that benefits those struggling with addiction.


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“We all work full time, so we don’t have time to spend 40 hours a week to help, but we want to support those who are in the trenches working with them,” said April Brooks, founder of StrongWILL.

This fun run/walk charity event for 2021 aims to raise $8,000 for the Hope Center Ministries. This Christian center focuses not just on addiction but also on making a better life through Jesus Christ. The center holds an 8- to 12-month, three-phase program to help their clients not only beat their addiction but also learn to have a fulfilling life without it. The phases find the core source of the addiction, teach life skills and earn money to start a new, clean life. Hope Center Ministries is planning to open a location in Suffolk but still needs $8,000 for its final start-up cost, and StrongWILL wants to step in to cover it.

In March, StrongWILL donated $8,600 to Portsmouth Volunteers for the Homeless, who help put clients into treatment facilities to help them overcome their addictions with the money raised from the virtual run in October 2020.

“Since our first year, we have donated over $61,000 to different charities we choose each year,” said Brooks.

This charity started after Brooks’ brother, William “Doug” West, died of an overdose in 2016. She started looking for resources to help those with addiction and found that there were very few, especially for those without insurance. So, Brooks started StrongWILL to support those who are fighting addiction and those who help.

“Addiction doesn’t just affect the person, but it affects their family and friends as well,” said Brooks. “Many of our participants have lost a loved one due to addiction or have been personally affected by addiction. Several teams make custom shirts to honor their loved ones. StrongWILL gives them a way of honoring their loved ones while making a difference. It also gives them a place of comfort to be around others who share their experiences.”

Money raised from StrongWill events have gone to buy AEDs, cover treatment and recovery stays, provided MamaRoo infant seats that bounce and sway for babies born affected by their mother’s opioid addiction, scholarships, and funding for a rehabilitation center in Suffolk.

To register, visit To learn more or to be a sponsor, email