Record gift funds miraculous recoveries
In July 2005, while people were prepping their barbeques for Independence Day, Larry Soper, enslaved by drugs, was planning his suicide.
"I Googled the least painful ways," he said. "There were chat rooms even. It was a very dark place."
For years, the life of the former standout student, author and sports columnist from North Canton had been "measured out by the crack rock or syringe," he said. Then, on July 7, Larry found his freedom at the IBH Addiction Recovery Center, a 154-acre treatment facility in Coventry Township. That facility will now exist forever thanks to the IBH Foundation Fund of Akron Community Foundation, which began June 7 with a record-breaking gift of $12 million.
A different route
For Larry, the road to recovery began with a startling revelation. In and out of treatment centers, he was used to depending on others to cure him. But IBH was different: "They said, 'This isn't about us, it's about you. We will lay out the plan … but we're not going to carry you there, and if you don't want to be here, you can go back to where you came from,'" he said. "I thank God I stayed."
The new face of addiction
Larry has been sober for years now and works as a residential manager at IBH to help others find the same freedom as him. But today, Larry said, the clients who, like him, struggle primarily with opiate addiction are much younger. "Some (are) using intravenous heroin as young as age 14," he said. "The days of white middle-aged male alcoholic are long gone."
While the clients change, the central problem of addiction doesn't, and Larry relies on his own experience to prove to them there is hope. "I tell them, don't leave until the miracle happens," he said. "This is a house of miracles. Hopeless are restored to hope, sick are made well, and if you stick with this, get the miracle, and it will happen … your life will change in ways you could never imagine."
An ongoing legacy
In 2013, IBH Foundation's board of directors took a step to ensure that the facility will be there forever, to continue providing hope to individuals like Larry. They established a $12 million fund at Akron Community Foundation.
"Akron Community Foundation is a trusted and proven leader in investment and administration of charitable funds," Killian said. "Through the years, hundreds of donors have trusted the IBH Foundation with gifts both large and small. This new fund offers them the added confidence that their gifts will live on in perpetuity, so we can continue our mission of recovery right here in Akron, the birthplace of recovery."