She was like any 20-something woman in Western New York. Hilary White was driven, smart and on the outside looked polished and put together.
But the outside often masks struggles.
And White's struggle was an opiate addiction.
"She wasn't what many people would characterize as an addict," said her brother, Ben White. "She was a productive member of society, which made the problem difficult to detect. She was still attending graduate school, getting high marks in school, working full time. She was an individual who loved people, loved animals, didn’t have a bad bone in her body.
"She was originally prescribed opioid medication for anxiety relief and developed an addiction through prescribed medication."
Hilary White went to rehab twice. She would go more than a year at a time being drug free.
"The problem is, I'm not a doctor, but the way it's been explained to me is that once you have the addiction, your brain is almost re-wired to crave the drug to a point where that's all you really think about," Ben White said. "And that feeling never really subsides, no matter how much time passes. Which really makes it the issue that it is today. That's why you see so many relapse stories."
And why there are so many tragic endings. Hilary White lost her battle with addiction in August of 2017 at the age of 27, just weeks after her uncles had been part of the successful debut of the 15K Run 716.
In the aftermath, the Hilary Grace Foundation was born and Run 716 made the organization dedicated to fighting the opioid epidemic one of its three supported charities.
It was Rich Meyers, part of the race committee, who first suggested to brothers Larry and Gary Brownell, uncles of Hilary White, that Run 716 could support the Hilary Grace Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that the family started in September to help combat opioid addiction locally and nationwide.
For more than 30 years the Brownells have been involved in the running community, coordinating races including the Loughran's Alumni Cup 5K and the Moonlight Run. There has always been a charitable tie-in to their events.
But this time, it's extremely personal.
"I think the running community is all about health and wellness, and we're just trying to pay it forward," Gary Brownell said.
"I think the idea of getting the word out is good. It becomes a discussion item for everybody," Larry Brownell said. "It's been kind of stuffed under the rug where people didn't really want to talk about it. So the more that it's in the forefront, the more people are discussing it, the better it is for everybody."
Tim Herzog, the founder of Flying Bison Brewing Company, which is the host of Run 716, noted that many people in Western New York have some connection to opioid addiction. And the race is an opportunity to talk about something that usually lives in the dark.
"As we have this conversation, signing people up for the race, planning the race, we find it's like the Roswell [Park Comprehensive Cancer Center] story – oh my uncle was there, my neighbor was there," Herzog said. "Just like so many people's lives are touched by cancer, so many lives are touched by addiction."
The Hilary Grace Foundation is one of three charities that will receive funds from Run 716, along with the Buffalo Police Athletic League and the Food Bank of Western New York. The Hilary Grace Foundation has two main projects – offering a $10,000 scholarship to a student in the mental health counseling graduate program at Canisius College and starting a facility called "Hilary's House" as a place for people leaving a rehabilitation facility who aren't quite ready to return to their home environment.
The charitable component of the race is part of the Buffalo running experience.
And Run 716 is a definite Buffalo running experience.
The idea came from the Brownells and Meyers, who have run the Utica Boilermaker 15K for a decade. The iconic race in central New York is based around F.X. Matt Brewing Company – and Flying Bison is part of the Matt's Brewing company family.
As Herzog said, it took "all of eight to 10 seconds" to convince him to host a 15K in Buffalo modeled after the famous Utica race.
It's the only 15K currently on the Western New York race schedule and also features a three-person relay. This year's race is on Sunday, Aug. 5 with a starting time of 7:16 a.m.
The course begins and ends at Flying Bison Brewery on Seneca Street. It goes by City Hall then travels north on Delaware Avenue, turning on North Street, then heading south on Pearl Street. The course loops out to the Erie Basin Marina, returning to the brewery via South Park Avenue and Michigan.
Participants receive a shirt, finisher's medal, and the post-race party at Flying Bison, featuring live music. There also will be bands on Saturday as the race is making packet pickup on Saturday, Aug. 4 a pre-race party, also at Flying Bison.
Linda Yalem Safety Run Canceled
The University at Buffalo announced it will end its sponsorship of the Linda Yalem Safety Run due to declining participation and an increasingly competitive local race market.
In a statement, UB said that the "registration for the annual race, named for former UB student Linda Yalem, has declined over the past decade, falling more than 50 percent between 2012 and 2017. Diminishing interest can be attributed to the rising number of events held each year in Western New York, many of which are dedicated to raising money for charitable causes."
The statement continued: "The university is committed to the ideals promoted by the run: the need to increase awareness of general and personal safety, and enhancing the safety of our campus communities through many university-wide programs and initiatives."
Wednesday, July 4
- Lakewood YMCA Firecracker Runs, 10K and 2-mile, 9 a.m., Lakewood Beach, Lakewood
- 40th Depew-Lancaster Boys & Girls Club 10K, 9 a.m., Boys & Girls Club, 5440 Broadway, Lancaster
Thursday, July 5
- Daemen Athletics Summer Track Series No. 1, 6 p.m., Williamsville South High School Track, 5950 Main St., Williamsville
Saturday, July 7
- Ripley's Race To Wellness 5K, 9 a.m., Ripley Town Building, 1 Park Ave. (North State Street), Ripley
Thursday, July 12
- Daemen Athletics Summer Track Series No. 2, 6 p.m., Williamsville South High School Track, 5950 Main St., Williamsville
Saturday, July 14
- Tuscarora Nation 10K and 2.5-mile run, 9 a.m., Tuscarora Indian School, 2015 Mount Hope Road, Lewiston
- Niagara Catholic 5K, 10 a.m., Niagara Catholic High School, 520 66th St., Niagara Falls
- The Janeen Kelly Memorial Run 5K, 10 a.m., Mang Park, Kenmore
Sunday, July 15
- 5K Mission Possible, 8:30 a.m, Zion United Church of Christ. 15 Koenig Circle, Tonawanda
Tuesday, July 17
- Okay 5K Fun Run/Wellness Walk, 7 p.m., Delaware Park’s ring road
Wednesday, July 18
- ESB Engineering Scholarship Run 5K, 7 p.m., Buffalo Harbor State Park, 1111 Fuhrmann Blvd.
Thursday, July 19
- Daemen Athletics Summer Track Series No. 3, 6 p.m., Williamsville South High School Track, 5950 Main St., Williamsville
- St. John Vianney Kickoff Run 5K, 6:30 p.m., St. John Vianney Catholic Church, 2950 Southwestern Blvd., Orchard Park
- Tim Frank Memorial Canal Fest, 4 miles, 7 p.m., Crazy Jakes, 26 Webster St., North Tonawanda
Friday, July 20
- Subaru Buffalo 4 Mile Chase, 7 p.m., Bidwell Parkway
- St. Mary's 5K Chowder Chase, 7 p.m., St Mary’s Church of Swormville, 6919 Transit Road, East Amherst
Saturday, July 21
- Laurel Run 8K, 8:30 a.m., Silver Creek Village Square, corner of Central Avenue and Main Street, Silver Creek
- Run For Life 5K, 9 a.m., Life Church, 4928 Seneca St., West Seneca
- St. Amelia Christmas in July 5K, 9 a.m., St. Amelia Youth Ministry, 210 St. Amelia Drive, Tonawanda
- Character Chase 5K, 9:30 a.m., Village of Hamburg
- Westfield Golden Hawks 5K, 10 a.m., Welch Field, Elm and Third Street, Westfield
Sunday, July 22
- Sunrise Camel Spider 5K, 7:30 a.m., American Legion Post 567, 3740 N. Buffalo Road, Orchard Park
- EVL-9 and EVL-4 Trail Runs, 9.1 miles and 4.2 miles, 9:30 a.m., Holiday Valley Mountain Sports Center, Holiday Valley Ski Resort, Rt.219, Ellicottville
Wednesday, July 25
Ronald McDonald House 5K, 6:30 p.m., Ronald McDonald House, 780 W. Ferry St.
Thursday, July 26
- Daemen Athletics Summer Track Series No. 5, 6 p.m., Williamsville South High School Track, 5950 Main St., Williamsville
Friday, July 27
- Seneca Hickory Stick 5K Summer Sizzler Race No. 1, 5K, 7 p.m., Seneca Hickory Stick Golf Club, 4560 Creek Road, Lewiston
Saturday, July 28
- Randolph Toymakers 5K Fundraiser, 8 a.m., 29 Center St., Randolph
- Wild 5K, Trail Run, 9 a.m., Jamestown Audobon Center, 1600 Riverside Road, Jamestown
- Dash 'N Splash Family Fun Run, 2.5 miles, 9 a.m., Frontier Middle School, 2751 Amsdell Road, Hamburg
- Battle on Buffalo 5K, 9 a.m., Delaware Park
Sunday, July 29
- Lindsay Matthews Scholarship Race 5K, 10 a.m., Orchard Park Soccer Complex, 6909 Milestrip Road, Orchard Park
Thursday, Aug. 2
- Daemen Athletics Summer Track Series No. 6, 6 p.m., Williamsville South High School Track, 5950 Main St., Williamsville
Saturday, Aug. 4
- Christine Padasak Memorial – Autism Awareness 5K, 9:30 a.m., The Children’s League parking lot, 393 North St., Springville
- Beast of Burden, 100-mile, 50-mile, 25-mile, 10 a.m., The Nelson C. Goehle Widewaters Marina, 718 Market St., Lockport
- St. Christopher Summerfest 5K, 6:30 p.m., St. Christopher Church, 2660 Niagara Falls Blvd., Tonawanda
Sunday, Aug. 5
- Run 716, 15K and relay, 7:16 a.m., Flying Bison Brewing Headquarters, 840 Seneca St.
- Stephen's Cross-Country Run 6K, 9 a.m., Long Point State Park, 4459 NY-430 Lakeside Drive, Bemus Point