Anthony G. Believes in the Power of Fun Back in 2011, newly clean and living at Hazelden's sober residence in Chicago, Anthony was asked to pull together a Hazelden team to compete in a Recovery Month kickball tournament. "Here I was, new to recovery, new to the residence, and new to Chicago—just trying to figure everything out," he recounts. Still, Anthony took the challenge and the initiative, and he discovered the sweetest kind of victory in the process. Team Hazelden won the kickball tournament. In fact, Anthony's team never lost a game all day. "The thing I remember most about that day was how much fun we all had," Anthony shares. "It felt amazing. Everyone was in the same place I was—at such a difficult time in our lives—but we were all so excited to be out there, having a blast and playing our hearts out." Embracing the Joy Today, Anthony is a key organizer of what's become an annual Recovery Month kickball extravaganza in Chicago, complete with trophies, lunch, a deejay and a whole lot of friendly competition. Held this year on September 17 at the University of Chicago campus, the tournament drew a record of 12 teams along with hundreds of supporters and spectators. Anthony's favorite part of the day? Watching newcomers embrace the spirit and jump into the action. "Having fun is such an essential part of recovery, and it's too easily overlooked," Anthony suggests. "It is possible for us to grow our recovery outside of the meeting rooms, too. We do that by putting ourselves out there and celebrating this new life we've been granted." Anthony's new take on life began over six years ago, following his against-all-odds comeback from a drug-related accident. He had overdosed and crashed down a concrete staircase, shattering bones, crushing organs, and slamming into a coma. Against all odds, he awoke in the hospital four days later—to the sight and sound of his family praying around his bed. "In so many ways, it's a miracle I'm alive today," Anthony says. "Hazelden has helped me build a foundation for my life that is way beyond anything I could've ever imagined. Grateful to Give Back Looking back to his first Recovery Month kickball game, Anthony saw the power of sports and community in recovery. It was the start of something wonderful that he's gratified to play forward. He'd like to see the kickball tournament catch on throughout the U.S. to raise awareness during National Recovery Month. It's already caught on in St. Paul, where the first annual tournament was held on September 17, drawing 10 teams and many enthusiastic fans. Every September, a wide variety of National Recovery Month events and activities are held to educate Americans about the effectiveness of treatment for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders in helping people lead healthy and rewarding lives. "Hazelden helped me completely turn my life around," Anthony attests. "As a grateful alum, I feel like it's my obligation—but more, my absolute joy—to try and give back in full measure."