City Gospel program helps recovering addicts run the Flying Pig

Posted at 4:30 AM, May 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-05 06:21:55-04

CINCINNATI -- Running wasn't something Dierra Merrit used to do, but it's easy compared to what she has been through.

Merrit, 28, has been in recovery at City Gospel since December for alcohol and prescription pill addiction. When the opportunity came for her to run in the Flying Pig, no one could stop her.

"When I'm at my highest high running, I'm grateful to be alive. I'm so happy that I'm here," she said. "I'm so happy that I found something that I can enjoy without any kind of mind-altering chemical."

It's part of City Gospel's "Step Forward" recovery program, which started about eight years ago. This year, Jean Schmidt -- who has been involved with the program for six years and running for almost 40 -- is helping three women in recovery reach the finish line.

"It is one of the happiest, most wonderful experiences I have ever had," Schmidt said.

This is the first year the program has allowed them to run the half or full marathon. For Merrit, running is becoming her new lifestyle.

"Now that I'm running, I feel like I'm finding a piece of myself that I can identify with enjoy," Merrit said.m "That's what this journey is for me, finding myself."