Hamilton, Ont. man gears up for 100 mile ‘Run for Hope’
TORONTO -- After overcoming a long history of addiction, Ryan Polawski is raising money to show his gratitude to the rehabilitation centre he credits for saving his life.
Growing up, Polawski had his eyes set on the Olympics or riding in the Tour de France, but his dreams came crashing down in 2007 after a scary cycling accident in Arizona.
“I front-flatted and went off the road — this led to shattering my t8 and t9 vertebrae with burst fractures, as well as my right shoulder,” he said. The list of brutal injuries goes on.
It took him three years to fully recover, which he said was a miracle after thinking he may never walk again.
“It took my soul apart. It took any kind of a real sense of purpose and identity away from me. I didn’t care about family. I didn’t care about anything,” he said.
Polawski turned to drugs, alcohol and smoking — a battle he struggled with for more than a decade.
He was in-and-out of rehab, but it wasn’t until a one-year program in London, Ont called Teen Challenge that his life began changing for the better.
“It gave me gratefulness back. It rejuvenated my thirst for life,” he said.
The rehab programs charges roughly $1,100 as an entrance fee, Polawski said. The rest is paid for entirely by donors.
On Friday, he plans on running more than 165 kilometres from Hamilton to Toronto’s CN Tower and back to raise money for the centre.
“Without Teen Challenge I don’t even know where I’d be right now and I don’t even want to think about it, and without my family of course too,” he said.
He has raised more than $15,000 of his $25,000 goal.