About the Ride
In Joel's Steps is a ride on an ElliptiGo, a unique stand-up bike, across the United States from San Francisco, CA, to Charleston, SC, beginning about July 1, 2021, representing the difficult road to recovery from substance addiction. Clay intends to draw attention to the personal and family tragedy of Substance Use Disorder, and in particular Opioid Use Disorder, that is ravaging this country but is known by most only in statistics. Clay believes that substance addiction is a brain disease; that it damages choice-making in the brain; and that it is treatable.
By telling his son Joel’s and his family’s story at stops in cities along a route through the heart of the country, and by collecting other affected individuals' and families' stories, he hopes to create a commonality and kinship independent of geography; we all share in this suffering and in its resolution. By giving voice to others’ stories in addition to Joel's story, he hopes to humanize and put faces to this crisis personalizing the statistics.
Through his vulnerability, he wants to challenge the societal stigma that exists around this disease, freeing individuals and families to be honest with themselves and others and seek help. His dependence on a community of support around him during the crossing will symbolize the need for community on the road to recovery for stable, on-going success. He wants to promote the value of Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) as a recovery modality and Narcan training to save lives until recovery is pursued. He wants to create a video and book of the journey focusing on the collected stories of each person’s experience. And he wants to raise money for organizations fighting in this arena and multiply the impact by recruiting other athletes to seek support for their own training miles concurrent to his crossing, with all donations going to the chosen cause.
Why this route?
Much of the route is the middle of the country option from Adventure Cycling Trans America routes. This option was chosen to communicate that OUD, and more generally SUD, run through the heart of this country sparing no population or demographic. This route also allows Clay to go through his current hometown of Salida, CO, his and Joel’s former hometown in the Asheville, NC area, and Joel's son's hometown of Charleston, SC.
100% of all fundraising donations go directly to the cause. The organizations represent different aspects of the crisis and in different parts of the country, as well as nationally.
Family and Youth Initiatives in Chaffee County, CO. They address preventing substance use in the adolescent demographic. Located in Clay's current home county, they focus on the most vulnerable population, the young, whose brains are still developing making long-term damage more likely.
Recovery Research Institute at Massachusetts General and Harvard University. They work to find and disseminate best practices information for substance use addiction recovery utilized by thousands of care providers and counselors.
Haywood Street Congregation in Asheville, NC. Located near where Joel grew up, he used some of their services during his addiction struggle. They focus on one of the common sequelae of long-term addiction, homelessness.
PERCS, Peer Empowered Recovery Community Solutions uses the peer recovery support modality, a proven recovery approach.