Rally in the park attracts more than 300 people


Hope isn’t something Braxton Streeval takes for granted any longer.

At 27, he has dealt with drug addiction, lived on the streets and has wanted to take his own life, he said.

He had a brief stint at Todd’s Place Transitional Housing and Detox Facility in Seymour but ended up back in Indianapolis where he lived.

In fact, he was on his way to purchase some heroin to overdose and end it all just a couple of months ago when he ran into Jason and Janet Davis of Seymour, he said.

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The Davises were in Indianapolis for Mother’s Day and happened to be eating outside a pizzeria when Streeval stumbled around the corner.

It was that moment God intervened to save his life, Streeval said.

Jason Davis, a recovering drug user and former dealer, is a graduate of Todd’s Place, so he and and his wife knew Streeval. After seeing and talking with him, they knew they could offer him two things: Hope and support.

Knowing what the struggles are like to get clean, Jason now runs Celebrate Recovery meetings and works as a sponsor at Todd’s Place to lift up others who are facing the same battles.

After making a call to Kris Hunley, director of Todd’s Place, the Davises brought Streeval back to Seymour. He reentered the facility and recently earned his recovery coin for staying clean for 30 days.

On Saturday afternoon, Streeval and several others who are fighting back against drug and/or alcohol addiction participated in Seymour’s first recovery rally at Shields Park in Seymour.

Throughout the afternoon, more than 300 people braved the heat to take part in the event.

Organized by the Davises and Susan Tormoehlen with support from several local organizations, the Seeking Hope Recovery Rally was simply a way to bring people, families and the community together in a fun and positive way. The message was one of celebration and rejoicing in recovery and reaching out to those in need of hope.

There was live music from Christian bands, free food and drinks and information about local resources available to support those wanting help with addiction.

Several area churches and ministries, including The Alley, First Baptist Church, Cherished, LivingFire Ministries and Seymour Christian Church, were involved with pastors ministering and offering prayer and counseling.

Jackson County native Angie Hunley, wife of Kris Hunley and his partner in running Todd’s Place, said events like the recovery rally help more than people realize.

“The community needs support,” she said. “This is a nice outlet and a great outreach because people facing addictions need someone to talk and places to go where they aren’t going to be judged or shamed.”

Hunley said she was battling an addiction to alcohol four years ago that was controlling her life and leading her down a road she didn’t want to go. That all changed when she met Kris, got sober and joined him in his mission to help people recover from addiction.

“I tried to quit on my own, but what it takes is a support group of people who believe in the Lord because he is who gets you through it,” she said.

Having an addiction is just like bondage, she said.

“It feels great to be set free, but you have to have a willingness to leave that life behind,” she said.

Debbie Pettay of Seymour also attended Saturday’s rally. She lost her son, Zak Klakamp, at the age of 23 to a drug overdose March 2. She doesn’t want to see anyone feel hopeless and succumb to drug addiction.

That’s why she shares Zak’s story and her family’s story because it has the power to help somebody else, she said.

In high school, Zak started smoking and drinking, but the real trouble began when he got hooked on prescription painkillers and then turned to heroin. He did a couple of stints in rehab, but the addiction kept pulling him back in, Pettay said.

“We have to continue to raise awareness about this problem as a community because it can happen to anyone and any family,” she said.

Progress is being made, though, and she’s thankful for that.

“I can tell a huge difference from when we started down this path until now,” she said.

Knowing his struggles are far from over, Streeval shared his story publicly with those in attendance Saturday to serve as inspiration to others and to hold himself accountable.

For Streeval, Todd’s Place and Seymour feel like home, and he considers the Hunleys and the rest of the residents his family, he said.

“Events like this have the power to save people’s lives because it shows you there are people who care about what happens to you and a community that cares about you,” he said of the Seeking Hope Recovery Rally. “You are not alone.”

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