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A light through addiction's 'dark days'

November 22, 2012 -- Updated 1702 GMT (0102 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS

(CNN) -- Through sports, Scott Strode was able to overcome his addiction to drugs and alcohol.

He worked out in a boxing gym, got involved with triathlons and climbing, and made new friends who supported him through his transition.

Encouraged by his success, Strode wanted to help others deal with their own addiction. So in 2007, he started a nonprofit, Phoenix Multisport.

Phoenix Multisport has provided free athletic activities and a sober support community to more than 6,000 participants in Colorado. It offers dozens of programs every week, from casual walks and yoga to mountain biking and ice climbing.

CNN asked Strode for his thoughts on being chosen as one of the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012.

CNN: What do you hope this recognition will mean for Phoenix Multisport?

Scott Strode: My hope is that sharing this story on the national stage will help Phoenix Multisport reach the angel donors that we need to support our current work and help us expand nationally.

Staying sober thanks to a CNN Hero
Pushpa Basnet was shocked to learn that children in Nepal were living in prisons with their parents. In 2005, she started a children's center that has provided housing, education and medical care to more than 140 children of incarcerated parents. "I always had a dream to build our own home for these children, and I want to rescue more children who are still in prisons," Basnet said. See more photos of Pushpa Basnet, who was voted CNN Hero of the Year for 2012. Pushpa Basnet was shocked to learn that children in Nepal were living in prisons with their parents. In 2005, she started a children's center that has provided housing, education and medical care to more than 140 children of incarcerated parents. "I always had a dream to build our own home for these children, and I want to rescue more children who are still in prisons," Basnet said. See more photos of Pushpa Basnet, who was voted CNN Hero of the Year for 2012.
The top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012
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The top 10 Heroes: In their own words The top 10 Heroes: In their own words

More than 23 million people over the age of 12 in the U.S. are struggling with addiction and need treatment. Of those, only about 10% get treatment.

When I got sober, I was alone and didn't know what to do. I knew I couldn't go back to using or I was going to die. Finding others living a sober, healthy lifestyle and finding hope and happiness in sobriety were gifts that saved my life. I knew I had to give this gift to others. There are millions out there in the dark days of their addiction, alone, trying to figure out how to stay alive.

I hope that sharing my story and the story of Phoenix Multisport does two things.

First, I want those who are addicted and those who love them to know they are not alone and that there is hope.

Second, everyone knows someone who has struggled with addiction. It may be your mother, cousin, friend, co-worker, admired athlete, movie star or musician, but we are all well aware of how bad things can get when addiction takes over. It is my hope that by sharing this story on the national stage, people will realize recovery is possible.

Who should be the CNN Hero of the Year? Cast your vote now!

Phoenix is only in existence because of the support we receive from donors. It is my ultimate hope that this amazing opportunity allows us to reach donors who can help us create a sober active community in cities and towns across the nation. By supporting Phoenix Multisport financially, donors can make recovery possible for millions nationally and we can break the cycle of addiction so future generations don't have to grow up under the shadow of alcoholism or drug addiction.

CNN: What was the reaction when you found out you were a top 10 CNN Hero?

Strode: I was deeply moved. (Our) staff and supporters have been working so hard for several years to help build the Phoenix Multisport sober active community. Telling the successes of this story I believe will help rally other supporters around us, allowing Phoenix Multisport to reach thousands more with our programs.

(We) and our supporters were overjoyed by the acknowledgement of our work. So rarely is the recovery side of addiction discussed in the media, so Phoenix Multisport felt honored to share the telling of this story of recovery and hope with CNN and its audience.

CNN: How will you use the $50,000 award you receive for being selected as a top 10 CNN Hero?

Strode: Phoenix Multisport has always had the goal of having chapters in cities across the country. And with this recognition from CNN, we believe this dream will come true, allowing Phoenix's programs to reach others battling the darkness of addiction. We believe that recovery heals individuals and families.

CNN: What do you want people to know most about your work?

Strode: Phoenix Multisport prides itself on our ability to help recovering addicts and alcoholics repair their self-esteem.

Many of us in recovery had our dreams stripped away during our alcohol and drug use. The Phoenix Multisport community helps give those dreams back through standing on top of mountains and crossing finish lines.

We also help those in recovery let go of some of the shame associated with their addiction by wearing a Phoenix T-shirt or bike jersey. It makes a statement that "I'm a better person today because I'm sober, and if you are out there struggling with addiction, we are here for you."

Read the full story on CNN Hero Scott Strode:
Ex-addicts staying sober through sport

More Q&As from top 10 Heroes:
'A ray of hope' where girls didn't count
A voice for America's caregiving kids
After losing daughter, dad vows to change culture
Seeking justice for Haiti's rape victims
$50K to help 'Kliptown kids' rise up
Changing reality for impoverished teen moms
Dogs help war vets find 'new normal'
Son's drowning spurs mom to action
A lifeline for kids growing up behind bars

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