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Runners, walkers cheer for sobriety during annual 5K

Seminoles in Recovery01
Chad Billie celebrates his win in the men’s adult walker category as he passes under the finish line balloons Sept. 19 during the sixth annual Seminoles in Recovery 5K Run & Walk at T.Y. Park in Hollywood.

HOLLYWOOD — More than 40 determined people gathered before dawn Sept. 19 ready to walk, run or stroll through Hollywood’s Topeekeegee Yugnee (T.Y.) Park for the sixth annual Seminoles in Recovery 5K Run & Walk.

“We try to teach a new way of life,” said Helene Buster, organizer of Seminoles in Recovery events. “We promote being healthy physically, spiritually and emotionally. This is the physical part of the process.”

The event attracted individuals new to recovery and those who have maintained their sobriety for years.

Buster said she hopes they learn from each other and that the more experienced people can be an example for those new to the program.

“Being sober for years isn’t any different than being sober for one day,” Buster said. “This program teaches us one day at a time. If old-timers think they don’t need this, then they will start going into their old way of thinking and living. That’s why we have at least quarterly events to encourage fellowship and get people trying to recover together, so they can get support from each other.”

The T.Y. Park event was open to the community. Families with babies and children, seniors and everyone in between took to the course through the wooded park at their own pace.

Despite being well along in her pregnancy, Jo Jo Osceola walked with her children Sarafina and Byron Billie, ages 9 and 7, and her sister Courtney Osceola, who is training for the San Francisco half marathon Oct. 18 and the Disney Avengers back-to-back half marathons Nov. 13 and 15 in Los Angeles.

“We came to show support for our people,” Jo Jo Osceola said. “It’s a good cause and they (her children) need to remain active even early on a Saturday morning.”

The winners of the sixth annual Seminoles in Recovery 5K Run & Walk were: men’s adult walker: Chad Billie (first), Kenneth Tommie (second), Brian Billie (third); women’s adult walker: Jennifer Billie (first), Lila Osceola (second), LaDonna Tucker (third); men’s adult runner: Clinton Billie (first), Timothy Bearden (second), Travis Duncan (third); women’s adult runner: Cheri Thompson (first), Alice Brady (second), Jackie Velasquez (third); men’s senior runner: Tony King (first), Patrick Doctor Sr. (second); men’s senior walker: Lawrence Osceola (first); women’s senior runner: Helene Buster (first).

“It was fun,” said Chad Billie after winning the men’s adult walker category. “It was my first time doing it and I sweated more than I thought I would.”

The event raised more than $1,000 for the eighth annual Florida Native American Recovery Convention to be held in Clewiston in March.

Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at