Portrait of a Hero: Scott Strode – Strode says his group isn't a substitute for a drug recovery program, but he believes the natural high that people get from sports and exercise can be transformative. "The physical effects of exercise translate to your work, your family life, your belief in yourself," he said.
Portrait of a Hero: Scott Strode – Phoenix offers dozens of programs every week, ranging from casual walks and yoga to boxing and mountain biking. "It's a great way to introduce people into something that then later becomes ... sort of their coping mechanism, as opposed to picking up a drink or a drug, " Strode said.
Portrait of a Hero: Scott Strode – "Seeing Scott at work reminds me how much good energy one actually receives by helping others," photographer Shaul Schwarz said. "Watching how he uses sports as a vehicle to bring people back from despair is heartwarming."
Portrait of a Hero: Scott Strode – Strode named his group Phoenix Multisport for the mythical bird that rises from its ashes. "Life should be better once you get sober," he said. "(We want to) help people build a new life, a new self-image and have fun without getting high."
Portrait of a Hero: Scott Strode – Strode leads a group of cyclists in Boulder, Colorado.
Portrait of a Hero: Scott Strode – Strode says the friendships built through the group are critical to its success. They provide people with a new support system that understands what they are going through.
Portrait of a Hero: Scott Strode – Anyone who has been sober for 48 hours is welcome to come to one of Phoenix's open sessions to participate in an activity and learn about the group. After attending several events, individuals are invited to join, provided they sign a pledge to treat everyone respectfully and stay sober.
Portrait of a Hero: Scott Strode – Strode said he started drinking when he was just 10 years. By 15, he was using cocaine. His addictions intensified after college. But after waking up one morning on the bathroom floor, he said enough and vowed to turn his life around.
Portrait of a Hero: Scott Strode – Some members of Phoenix Multisport are hard-core athletes, but the group welcomes people of all fitness levels. Most participants have never been active.
Portrait of a Hero: Scott Strode – Strode does some rock-climbing with a Phoenix group in Boulder.
Portrait of a Hero: Scott Strode – By being open about their sobriety, Strode hopes his group is helping to reduce the stigma of addiction. "There's so much camaraderie, people often come up and ask us how they can join our club," he said. "We're having fun, and we're proud of being sober."
Portrait of a Hero: Scott Strode – "Scott is a person with strong will, determination, motivation and genuine generosity for others," photographer Schwarz said. "Experiencing the joy he gets from helping people, it is clear that he has found his purpose in life."
Portrait of a Hero: Scott Strode – "Finding others living a sober, healthy lifestyle and finding hope and happiness in sobriety were gifts that saved my life," Strode said. "I knew I had to give this gift to others."