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Epic Motorcycle Ride Celebrates Drug Courts

A relay of riders is covering 3,000 miles to attend inspiring events at Drug, DWI and Veterans Treatment Courts.

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The relay riding out of Gallup, New Mexico

By West Huddleston

05/14/12

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Mike Jones served nine tours of duty in Iraq as an Army Ranger before losing his leg to an IED. These days, he participates in the Orange County Combat Veterans Court, a program that connects veterans who have been arrested and suffer from substance abuse and mental health disorders with the benefits and services they've earned. On May 1 he kicked off "All Rise America! National Motorcycle Relay for Recovery"—a first-of-its-kind 3,000 mile relay across the US, visiting 25 Drug Court, DWI Court and Veterans Treatment Court events in 24 days and celebrating the transformations made by Drug Courts—by leading 25 veterans, law enforcement and court staff on a ride to Los Angeles.

“I have firsthand experience of what these programs have done for me,” said Jones in LA. “When I came home I got hooked on drugs. Instead of being locked up I was given the opportunity to get treatment. It’s given me purpose and direction. I wouldn’t be here today without it.” With that, he handed the All Rise Gavel—the symbolic "baton" of this relay—to Mark, a rider with the Messengers of Recovery Motorcycle Club who led the next group of riders to Arizona. Drug Courts annually refer more people to treatment than any other system in America. Addicts rarely get clean in jail; Drug Courts keep addicted individuals out of jail or prison and in treatment, supervising them closely and using the leverage of the court to keep them engaged for as long as it takes to find long-term recovery.

A few days after the ceremonies in California, All Rise America! was in the Pueblo of Acoma in New Mexico, attending a graduation ceremony at a Drug Court designed for Native American communities. The former Governor of the Pueblo, Chandler Sanchez, was on hand to receive the gavel from the Mayor of Gallup, NM—who had ridden into town with 30 riders. A welcoming crowd showed the incredible support of a community that recognizes the social and economic benefits of giving its neighbors a chance at recovery. All Rise America! is currently more than halfway across the country, having traveled nearly 2,000 miles through seven states and attended 17 inspiring events so far. You can follow the progress online at the All Rise America! Blog.

West Huddleston is CEO of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.

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