Running for $2,019 to raise funds for addiction treatment

Andrea Hudak poses with her daughter Gabby while hiking. (Photo provided)

SARANAC LAKE — “Paying it forward” carries a special meaning for Andrea Hudak.

By running, walking and hiking through the Tri-Lakes area with her family in 2019, she’s working to raise $2,019 for people in treatment at St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers who can’t afford to continue their recovery.

As an associate utilization review coordinator at St. Joe’s in Saranac Lake, Hudak said she provides treatment updates to insurance companies and advocates for coverage for St. Joe’s clients.

“Seeing the denials come through and putting a pause on someone’s recovery gave me the idea to do something,” Hudak said, “to pay it forward.”

The Lake Placid resident said she’s been all about the idea of ‘paying it forward’ since visiting New York City a few years ago with her friends. A stranger gave them free tickets to the Museum of Modern Art, saying to only ‘pay it forward’ in the future.

“I’m trying to pay it forward to someone,” Hudak said.

Since working in the addiction treatment and recovery field, she said she’s seen firsthand how denial of services can pause someone’s efforts to stay sober, and that addiction is a family disease that affects large groups of people, not only the person suffering.

She calls her campaign Miles for Recovery. All proceeds will directly benefit patients at St. Joe’s, Hudak said.

She began working on her campaign a few months ago, and now she’s intent on running, walking and hiking with her husband Luke and 4-year-old daughter Gabby to raise money and awareness for addiction recovery and mental health.

Hudak first came to Lake Placid from her native Slovakia on a Work and Travel USA (J-1) student visa, and eventually she fell in love with the village, she told the Lake Placid News for a feature article in 2017.

“There was no place like Lake Placid for me,” she told the LPN. “There wasn’t then, and there isn’t now.”

Hudak this week said she plans to put on two main events to raise money in the coming months.

“One of them is going to be a mental health awareness hike up (Mount) Baker,” Hudak said. On Memorial Day weekend, May 26, weather permitting, Hudak said she plans to hike up the Saranac Lake mountain with anyone who wants to support the cause. Donations will be encouraged.

“People can come and just participate being outdoors, raising awareness for mental health,” Hudak said, “and how to help those who are suffering.”

She undertook a similar effort last year, hiking Baker 12 times in 12 hours. Hudak said she’s always been an outdoor enthusiast — first running up Baker three years go.

“With a few exceptions, I have not stopped running there, and elsewhere, since then,” she said.

“Running has become my passion, a way to clear my head, a way to deal with myself, others, and the world,” Hudak wrote in a Miles for Recovery flier.

She said running gives her the chance to explore the trails and roads in the Tri-Lakes area, meeting people who enjoy running as much as she does.

“The second event that I hope to put on is a color run for recovery,” Hudak said.

Hudak said she’s working to organize the 5k run in the village of Saranac Lake sometime in July. She’s currently on the lookout for vendors, and for donations for the silent auction she plans to have at the event.

“You can just come and participate, too,” Hudak said. “All of that money is going to go directly to people in recovery.

“Hopefully this will become a yearly thing for the community.”

If you want to donate, there are several options: Call Hudak at 518-891-3801 ext. 12983; send a check to St. Joseph’s ATRC, Attn: Andrea Hudak, UR, P.O. Box 470, Saranac Lake, NY, 12983; or donate through her CrowdRise campaign at https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/miles-for-recovery.


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