The Be A Largest Heart annual 5K raised more than $5,000 for Freedom Springs High School, Orlando’s first accredited recovery high school, which is tailored to students in active recovery. More than 100 runners, walkers and supporters participated in the Sept. 17 event at Chapin Station on the West Orange Trail in Winter Garden.
The event is held each September in conjunction with Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services National Awareness Month, bringing awareness to addiction recovery. Peter T. Cook, Largest Heart founder and CEO, said 100% of the money raised is given to organizations making the greatest community impact.
“The (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports we are setting records daily with overdose deaths, and with 419 American lives lost each day to addiction, overdose and suicide, we need to do more to bring awareness, resources and financial assistance to this epidemic destroying lives, families and communities,” Cook said.
For the second year, Freedom Springs has been the recipient of the Be A Largest Heart award. The school has seen a tenfold increase in attendance from last year’s event, Cook said. Miss Florida Lindsay Bettis attended the event to help raise awareness.
Event sponsors included Impress Ink, University Behavioral Health (UBC), A-3 Fit, Wooley Brothers Roofing, Refreshed Traveler, Let Love Work, Winter Park Family Dental and Prosthodontics, Greater Good, The Sackman Trial Group, AOD Solutions, ScitoVation and Park Mobile.
Largest Heart’s mission is to spread hope, love and knowledge one opportunity at a time. Cook established the nonprofit after the death of his younger brother, Andrew, in 2017. Cook admired his brother’s gift of touching lives and knew he had to carry out his brother’s legacy of helping people in need.
Largest Heart aims to help identify the country’s most pressing needs and identify the nonprofits doing the best work in that field. Largest Heart then provides funds to those organizations, which will, in turn share their knowledge with the nonprofit community.
Cook’s website, LargestHeart.org, offers a list of resources for issues such as mental health, substance abuse, suicide and LGBTQ youth.
According to the website, “We're here to spread hope, love and knowledge; break down myths (and) stereotypes; educate; and have fun.”