Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon thanked dozens of golfers and the family of the late Michael Robert Wallin who participated August 9 in a charity golf tournament that benefits people struggling with opioid addiction.
Sheriff Gannon didn’t swing a club at the Knoll Country Club in Parsippany on Friday but he spoke at the luncheon after about 80 golfers finished their games in the 2nd annual Michael Wallin Memorial Golf Classic.
Two golf tournaments and a third fundraiser in Michael Wallin’s name have collectively raised about $50,000 for the Rockaway-based Center for Addiction Recovery, Education & Success (CARES), which engages and organizes the recovery community by assisting people through peer support, sober recreation and a stigma-free approach to overcoming addiction. Some of the funds have specifically helped uninsured people with substance use disorders receive in-patient treatment.
Michael Wallin, who grew up in Mountain Lakes, died on April 21, 2017, at the age of 32. He served in the U.S. Coast Guard, was a skilled carpenter and loved sports – including golf. According to his close-knit family, including parents Rusty and Eileen Wallin, addiction overtook Michael quickly and led to his death.
“He was a tremendous athlete and he would have loved the tournament. He would have loved seeing everyone. Addiction hits home. It’s right in your backyard,” Eileen Wallin said.
Sheriff Gannon’s signature Hope One mobile substance use resource and recovery program, launched on April 3, 2017, is partnered with CARES and the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris counties. Sheriff Gannon thanked the Wallin family for selflessly reaching out to help others after Michael’s death instead of withdrawing into their grief.
“Out of a tragedy this is what’s happened. People being cared for that could have passed. Let’s keep Michael and the family in your thoughts and prayers,” Sheriff Gannon said.
He said that Hope One and the non-profit entities CARES and Daytop-New Jersey, which state Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco helped found, are all committed to helping people overcome addiction.
“We’re moving the needle in the right direction through things like CARES, through programs going on there and their partnership on the truck known as Hope One,” the Sheriff said.
The Michael Wallin Memorial Fund recognizes the biggest barriers for people seeking treatment are money and transportation. Donations to the fund have been used for the initial cost of treatment, and have fully funded treatment options that include detox, in-patient and intensive outpatient treatment. Funds also have been used to assist people with down payments for sober living opportunities.