Our Second Annual Fundraising Gala
We urge everyone who reads this to help us build our base of support so that our upcoming event, our Second Annual Fundraising Gala, will be even more successful than the first. It is only in this way, with your support, that we can continue to offer "the most innovative treatment modalities available anywhere" AT NO CHARGE! Please join us, and support our fight against the ravages of addiction and the destruction that it can wreak on the bodies, minds, and environments of those it targets. We believe in self-determination and empowering those who decide they don't want to remain victims to the dark, cold, soulless clutches of addiction. But we need your help, in any way, in any form, and at all times, to help us fight this inspired fight of love.
GUEST SPEAKER: Ryan Leaf
Former College & NFL Star QB, Behavioral Health Advocate
Ryan David Leaf is an advocate for those struggling with mental and behavioral health issues and encourages audiences to transform the way we think about mental health issues and addiction. Ryan works to eliminate the mental health stigma and says, “asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.” The strong presence Ryan holds in a room is not just due to his 6-foot-6 frame, but the impassioned commitment he has made to serve those who are struggling. Before working with Transcend Recovery Community, he was one of the most promising collegiate football players of his time, and rivaled Peyton Manning for the Heisman trophy. In 1998, he was the number 2 pick in the NFL draft behind Peyton Manning. Ryan now travels across the United States speaking to communities about his story of recovery. Ryan’s experience captures the transparency and authenticity that Transcend Recovery Community is founded upon.
Football was Leaf’s life, but the pressure to perform on such an elite level was more than he was prepared to deal with, ultimately leading to the demise of his professional football career. After his official retirement from the NFL in 2003, Ryan received his bachelor’s degree and took a coaching job with the West Texas A&M football team in 2006. However, Leaf still struggled with his mental health and began to abuse prescription opiates due to a previous football injury. He solicited pain medication from West Texas A&M football players and eventually was caught stealing from the home of one of his players in order to feed his addiction, resulting in termination. His personal problems began to mount and Ryan was given the opportunity to seek help.
He received help for his substance abuse in Canada in 2008, but later he returned home to face criminal charges. Although it seemed Leaf’s struggles were behind him, in May of 2011, doctors found a mass in Ryan’s brain. While going through radiation treatment, Ryan would relapse on pain medication after not disclosing to the doctor his addiction past. Prison followed soon after, and when Ryan first entered prison, he had no motivation. However, his cellmate changed that as he urged Leaf to use his prison time as an opportunity to accomplish something of greater importance. Leaf describes the time in prison as a time of “spiritual growth and humility.”
Today, Ryan Leaf is the voice for the recovery community. His mission is to reach anyone in need of hope. At one time, Ryan felt completely consumed by his mental health issues and the only way to pacify his pain was with drugs. Out of that desolation, he hopes to inspire others to begin their road to recovery to see that happiness and health can always be achieved. He chooses to share his story dealing with mental health issues and substance abuse in order to reach the person who cannot yet imagine a better life for themselves. Ryan’s wish is to be an example that a better life is always possible.
Ryan is also a strong advocate for military service men and women. His father is a veteran and works with the foundation Merging Vets & Players (MVP), an organization comprised of a blend of combat veterans, players, coaches, and mentors, who understand what it means to overcome adversity, and who rise to face every challenge affecting the veteran community.
Our First Annual Fundraising Gala
On November 10th of 2017, Above and Beyond Family Recovery Center held our “First Annual Gala Fundraising Event” at the Art Institute of Chicago, in their exquisite restaurant and banquet hall known as Terzo Piano. By any standard, whatsoever, the event was a smashing success and not only raised enough operating capital for four solid months of Above and Beyond operations, but elevated our profile into a mainstream of caring, giving hearts that we believe will provide a solid, sustainable foundation for our future and the clean and sober futures of those we serve.
Framed by Co-Chairs Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of the City of Chicago, and the Honorable Bruce Rauner, Governor of the Great State of Illinois, Bryan Cressey, Founder, was able to share his deepest convictions about why he decided to put a FREE addiction clinic into a questionable area of town and turn it into “the most innovative addiction treatment centers in the United States, and perhaps the world.” Culminating a delicious dinner, a very successful silent auction, and a miraculously productive paddle raise, the 220+ attendees took advantage of the open bar, the music of DJ Kareem and enjoyed themselves until the museum hours forced us to reluctantly end our night of magical merriment.
Fundraising Gala Photos
“Above and Beyond is a place where I can come to when I have no place to go, a place that will allow me to speak my mind no matter what, and a place where I can feel free to talk about my pain, my hurts, and my beliefs.”
“I am an alumni member at Above and Beyond and I still come to see my family here at least three times per month. I love it at Above and Beyond. This place has made me a better man and a better thinker.”
“Above and Beyond has changed my life and helped me to stay sober. This is a great program!”