Hundreds march in Springfield to raise awareness for recovery resources

SPRINGFIELD,Mo. (KY3) - Hundreds of people marched nearly three miles across Springfield, on Saturday.

Freeway Ministries organized the "Save Our City March" to change the stigma around overcoming addiction and provide resources for those in recovery.

"It's a rally today for something that has never been done before in Springfield," said Maryellen Coffman, a recovering addict.

More than 250 people attended the march, either for themselves or others.

"Here's the deal, it's always those people until it becomes your family," said John Stroup with Freeway Ministries."Then it's your problem."

Coffman is one year sober. She said she is taking strides she never thought would be possible.

"I finally had the ability to say 'I'm an alcoholic, I'm a drug addict and I need help," said Coffman.

She said recovery hasn't been easy and she still takes day-by-day.

"As you continue your journey for recovery you fight your flesh every day, you know," said Coffman. "Once you have identified the fact that you are an addict at some realm, you really have to pray to the Lord every day to keep that from you because we're all one bad decision away from relapse."

For the first-ever "Save Our City March," Coffman wasn't walking alone.

"Without [Freeway Ministries], I wouldn't be standing here," she said.

Coffman said she wants the people of Springfield to know they're not alone, and that addicts are still people.

"[I hope] as they look at these people, as they walk through the city they don't look at them as a drug addict, they don't look at them as an alcoholic, they don't look at them as a homeless person, they don't look at them as someone who is in recovery," she said. "They look at them as a person."

Stroup said his organization provides housing and guidance to people going through the recovery process. He said he was once living in a homeless shelter in Springfield and now helps provide a home for others.

"Drug addicts are very valuable people and if you can get one of them on the right track they can make a great big difference in this world," Stroup said.