History of the Annual Red Road to Wellbriety Celebration
In 2007, the Community Education Committee of the Pima County – Tucson Commission on Addiction Prevention & Treatment (CAPT), comprised of Eddie Grijalva and Cindy Klein from Compass Behavioral Health Care, Ed Dunin-Wasowicz from D-W/McGarrity Advertising & P.R., Holly Robles, a retired community advocate for underage drinking and drug abuse prevention, and Molly Hunter, a commissioner on the CAPT, began meeting to discuss where the committee might focus its prevention and treatment awareness efforts.
During a conversation outside of those meetings between Eddie Grijalva, a Tohono O’odham, and Ed Dunin-Wasowicz, Ed asked Eddie what kind of sobriety and recovery programs there were for local Native Americans.
The more that Eddie shared about the White Bison tradition, The Red Road and the concept of Wellbriety, the more Ed realized that there was little that the general public really knew about recovery in Indian lands outside of the white crosses on the side of the highway, dietary issues and, of course, the stereotypical image of Native Americans and alcohol.
After their conversation, they both met with the rest of the CEC members at their next meeting and began bouncing around ideas for an event that could be held that specifically honored the successes of recovery among our local Native Americans, in conjunction with National Recovery Month in September.
With a donated budget of $700 from the Community Partnership of Southern Arizona (CPSA) and 3 weeks of planning time, the first event was scheduled at the Tohono O’odham Nation’s San Xavier Recreation Center. The free to the public event included food, entertainment and, that first year, Alcoholics Anonymous break-out sessions, along with health and wellness information tables supported by several local organizations and committees.
Among those early supporters were: Tohono O’Odham Behavioral Health Services, People Wellness Center, Tucson Indian Center, Compass Health Care, Pima County Library, The Pima County – Tucson Commission on Addiction, Prevention & Treatment, the Community Partnership of Southern Arizona, and D-W/McGarrity Advertising and P.R., who arranged for the production and distribution of radio spots to air on the Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui Nations’ radios stations along with press support for awareness during and after the event.
The event that first year was named the 1st Annual Red Road and Wellbriety Gathering, and nearly 200 Native Americans and their supporters participated — an amazing success given that the tiny group of planners had little more than heart and hope to make it happen.
In the second year the name was permanently changed to: The Annual Red Road to Wellbriety Celebration, in order to reflect the vision that the co-founders, Eddie Grijalva and Ed Dunin-Wasowicz had for an event that celebrates the successes of recovery and wellness in Native American communities.
Today the tradition continues with an annual family affair event that remains free to anyone and everyone, because true recovery demands commitment of the person, the support of their family, and the involvement of the entire community around them.
Today, our committee numbers nearly 35 committed individuals representing tribal and political leaders, individual community advocates, social service organizations that serve reservation and urban Indians, committees, and the private sector.
This celebration remains the only true, and fully encompassing recovery celebration that can boast Native music, wellness information, healthy living inspiration, full community support, traditional food and, most importantly, fun!
Become part of our future tradition. Join Us on the Red Road to Wellbriety Celebration Committee today!