Today’s Kerry Leno could literally run circles around her old self. The person she was five years ago couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without help, she shared. Alcohol nearly killed her.

    Fast forward to Sept. 7th, 2019, and there she was crossing the finish line of her first half marathon – the Dick Beardsley Half Marathon in Detroit Lakes. Not only has Leno turned her life around in recovery, but she is also helping others struggling with addiction.  
Through a Facebook fundraiser, Leno raised $1,310 by running the half marathon to donate to the RiverView Recovery Center (RRC). She kept her followers abreast of her five-week training program through Facebook posts and even livestreamed during the half marathon. Her goal was to run the marathon under 3 hours, but she finished in 2 hours 28 minutes. She credits friends, family and even a few strangers for helping her achieve her goal of reaching $100 per marathon mile.

    “This would not have been possible without all of your giving hearts,’’ she said of those who donated. “I am blessed and grateful to know every single one of you…This isn’t just a win for me, this is a win for us all.’’

Telemedicine Startup

    Leno donated the funds through the RiverView Foundation, which will double those funds through the Glenmore Recovery Donor Match Grant. Foundation Director Kent Bruun reported that the donation will be used to purchase equipment to start RRC’s telemedicine program.

    Coincidently, Leno started in August as the telemedicine assessor and intake processor at RRC East Grand Forks.  

    RRC Director Curtis Hamre describes the telemedicine service as “the delivery of a substance use disorder treatment service while the client is at an originating site and the licensed health care provider is at a distant site.’’ The services include chemical health assessments, care coordination and peer recovery support.

    Leno has been involved with RRC for about four years; first as a volunteer at a few events, then as a contractor providing assessments, and now as an employee.

    “I love RiverView,’’ Leno shared. “It’s a great place and a really supportive community. Curtis Hamre (RRC director) is also one of the reasons I work at RiverView. He is amazing. He really has a passion for what he does and he really makes a difference.

    “After a lot of hard work and places like RiverView Recovery, today I can say I’m a person living in long term recovery assisting others that are still struggling. With the help of RiverView Recovery, we are making a difference one beautiful person at a time.’’

Bucket List

    Speaking of making a difference, there’s a good chance this is not the last you will hear of Leno and her good work.  She has a bucket list and next up is running the full Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth in 2020.

    “I just figure, ‘why not’? I’m here and I can do it.’’

    There’s a lot Leno can do and has done. She’s challenged herself in her recovery to do something on her bucket list each year. Along with the half marathon, she’s biked around the State of Wisconsin – even though she didn’t have a bicycle of her own at the time, she’s gotten her motorcycle license so she doesn’t always have to depend on her husband for rides, she’s traveled to Alaska to scatter her father’s ashes, and she’s gone skydiving.

    “I am a grateful woman living a happy life in long-term recovery,’’ she concluded. “I have dedicated my life to helping others challenged by addiction.

    “It’s a beautiful day to be in recovery.’’

    For more information on RiverView Recovery Center programs, call 218-281-9511. For information on RiverView Foundation projects, contact Bruun at kbruun@riverviewhealth.org or 218-281-9249.