Fairbanks Circle of Hope Dinner celebrates record fundraising for patient assistance

More than 600 individuals came together to celebrate recovery from addiction and raise a record $270,000 at the 17th annual Fairbanks Circle of Hope Dinner April 26 at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown.

Jim Irsay and the Indianapolis Colts were once again the presenting sponsor for the Fairbanks Circle of Hope Dinner.The crowd at the 2018 Fairbanks Circle of Hope Dinner.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett noted that Fairbanks has been providing lifesaving support to the city for more than 70 years. Now, with the city sharing in the woes of the current nationwide opioid epidemic, “Fairbanks’ presence in our community has never felt more vital,” Hogsett said. “The opioid epidemic has not only entrapped countless men, women and children, it has broken homes and taken far too many lives. But we are not without hope, because we are not without Fairbanks. When you support Fairbanks, you are supporting the entire recovery community in Indianapolis.”

The Fairbanks Circle of Hope Dinner also raises awareness about alcohol and drug addiction while honoring an individual or organization for outstanding contributions related to research, education or treatment of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.

Leah Mannweiler speaks after receiving the Richard M. Fairbanks Circle of Hope Award.Leah Mannweiler, a partner at Krieg DeVault LLP and a Hope Academy board member, was honored as the 2018 Richard M. Fairbanks Circle of Hope Award recipient. She began assisting Fairbanks, which was already a client at Krieg DeVault LLP, with legal issues when she joined the law firm in 1989. Fairbanks’ work became personal when of Mannweiler’s children had a substance abuse problem as a teenager. She continues to have a close relationship with the organization (having previously served on the board) and Hope Academy, a recovery high school at Fairbanks.

“We are so fortunate to have Fairbanks in our community,” Mannweiler said. “I thank God for Fairbanks every day.”

This year’s keynote speaker was Ryan Leaf, a former college football and National Football League quarterback who’s now a behavioral health advocate. After his football career was cut short, Leaf began abusing prescription opiates to deal with old playing injuries and his declining mental health. His addiction eventually landed him in prison. After serving his sentence, Leaf began working for Transcend Recovery Community and now shares his story of recovery to audiences nationwide.Ryan Leaf gives the keynote address at the 2018 Fairbanks Circle of Hope Dinner.

The event also featured three “voices of recovery,” individuals who struggled with substance-use disorders and are now living in long-term recovery with help from Fairbanks, Hope Academy and La Verna Lodge, an extended residential treatment program provided by Fairbanks.

Barb Elliott, president and CEO of Fairbanks and Hope Academy, told the audience how Fairbanks touched the lives of more than 20,000 people last year through recovery services, community outreach and education. As well, the nonprofit organization devoted nearly 10% of its operating revenue – approximately $2 million – for patients who couldn’t afford treatment.

“We are only able to do that through the generosity of this great community and the people and companies here,” Elliott said.

Jim McClelland, executive director for Drug Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement for the State of Indiana, and Barb Elliott, president and CEO of Fairbanks.Angela Cain, formerly of WTHR-Channel 13 who now runs her own PR and media firm, reprised her role as host of ceremonies. Other noted guests included State Sen. Jim Merritt, former Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard, retired Judge Mary Bonvaventura, former State Sen. Patricia Miller, Magistrate Diana Burleson and Jim McClelland, executive director for Drug Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement for the State of Indiana.