Rindge family organizes 5K race in memory of son who died from opioid overdose

  • Courtesy photo

  • Courtesy photos—

  • The Olson family is organizing a 5K run in honor of their son and brother, Bryce Olson of Rindge, who died of a drug overdose in July. Courtesy photos—

  • The Olson family is organizing a 5K run in honor of their son and brother, Bryce Olson of Rindge, who died of a drug overdose in July. Courtesy photos—

  • The Olson family is organizing a 5K run in honor of their son and brother, Bryce Olson of Rindge, who died of a drug overdose in July. Courtesy photos—

  • The Olson family is organizing a 5K run in honor of their son and brother, Bryce Olson of Rindge, who died of a drug overdose in July. Courtesy photos—

  • The Olson family is organizing a 5K run in honor of their son and brother, Bryce Olson of Rindge, who died of a drug overdose in July. Courtesy photos—

  • The Olson family is organizing a 5K run in honor of their son and brother, Bryce Olson of Rindge, who died of a drug overdose in July. Courtesy photos—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/15/2019 11:00:03 AM
Modified: 5/15/2019 10:59:52 AM

On Saturday, Sandy Olson of Rindge plans to lace up a pair of gray Nike sneakers to run a five-kilometer race. Her son, Bryce, will be on her mind. 

Olson and her family are the organizers of the Shin Splints for Bryce 5K run, in memory of Bryce Olson of Rindge, who died in July from an overdose. The proceeds of the run will be donated to the House of Hope in Keene.

“He’d struggled for years with addiction,” Olson said about Bryce. “He struggled on and off for 15 years, at least. It escalated as the years went on. But he always tried to come clean.”

Before his death, Bryce was doing well, Olson said. Last year, he mentioned he wanted to get in shape and be healthier. His sister, Rochelle Blanton of Battleground, Washington, made him a promise – if he started running, she would fly back to New Hampshire in the fall and run a 10K with him.

Somewhat to her surprise, Rochelle Blanton said, her brother took up the challenge. The first thing he did was go out and buy himself a pair of gray Nike running shoes.

“He was doing awesome,” Bryce’s sister, Heidi Blanton of Battleground, Washington, said. “It felt different this time. He had never liked running, but he was so into it. He was calling me about what sneakers to buy.”

It became something positive for him to focus on, and a bonding experience for the siblings, even though they lived across the country from each other. They often called to talk about running, and Bryce would often complain of the shin pain running was giving him – the source of the name of the 5K. 

“It was inspiring to see him doing that. He had a goal and something to work toward,” Olson said. “Something positive.”

Everything seemed to be going well, until Bryce overdosed at his home in July, dying at the age of 33.

“We were so shocked,” Rochelle Blanton said. “He was trying to change and be healthy, and we had such hope.”

Olson said organizing the race in her son’s memory has helped her to work through her grief, by ensuring something positive comes from his death.

Following his death, Olson purchased the same style of gray Nikes that Bryce had been using to train for all four of her remaining children, to remember Bryce by. On race day, the whole family plans to don their matching sneakers to run the race.

“We’ll run the race for him, because he couldn’t,” Heidi Blanton said. “It’s definitely going to be an emotional day, but hopefully it will be healing, too.”

And, she added, she hopes the race highlights who Bryce was as a person, outside of his addiction.

“I feel like a lot of times, people just think, ‘They’re just a drug addict,’ or are ashamed. But he was so much more than that,” Heidi Blanton said. “He was a good person. He was generous. He was fun and funny and loved to make people laugh. He loved a lot of things that drugs stole from him.”

The proceeds from the race go to the House of Hope in Keene, a faith-based long-term rehabilitation program for women and mothers.

Olson knows how much recovery services are vital to people struggling with addiction and their families. There were times when her son was willing to enter a program or go through detoxification, but there were no facilities available for him, she said. 

“When there isn’t a spot available right away, you lose your window of opportunity,” Olson said. “If we can help one person, make sure one family doesn’t have to feel this pain, it will be worth it all.”

The first annual Shin Splints for Bryce 5K run/walk will be held on Saturday at 10 a.m. The starting point of the run is the Christian Outreach Church, located at 199 North St. in Rindge. Registration is $25. Runners may register or submit donations at tinyurl.com/BryceOlson5K.

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT. 


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