Rochester's Graham Correia answered his phone sounding short of breath. He was running 20 miles at an elevation of 8,000 feet in preparation for an upcoming cross-country journey that he hopes will resonate with anyone having problems with alcohol.

"Let me slow down to a fast walk while we talk," he said.

Correia's mission is to raise awareness about alcohol abuse, and to share his story – especially with anyone struggling with the same problem – on his Facebook page and the through the Herren Project, a national nonprofit organization providing free resources and support for the treatment of substance abuse. It was started by Fall River native and former NBA player Chris Herren, who had to battle his own addictions that cost him his professional sports career before he finally got clean and dedicated his life to helping others.

Correia is looking to do the same.

"The whole idea for this started about 25 years ago, when I was 13 years old and discovered that alcohol was my friend because it immediately made me feel better from my low self-esteem," he said.

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Correia said that alcohol addiction led him in and out of dozens of rehab centers, but he never hit his bottom until just recently.

"I lost my beautiful family that I love, and everything else I had to feed my addiction," he said. "So, this past October, I made the decision to come to Colorado to meditate, and face my pain and my problem for real."

Courtesy Graham Correia
Courtesy Graham Correia

January 1 is a time for new beginnings, and Correia specifically chose the day to start his 2,000-mile run from Denver, Colorado to a horse farm in Rochester, Massachusetts. Correia said he's setting up a Facebook group for the run and will chat everyday about his experiences.

"If anyone wishes to run with me that would be great," he said. "I have fellow runners in Indianapolis, Indiana and another in Cleveland, Ohio joining me already."

Courtesy Graham Correia
Courtesy Graham Correia

January means possible snow along much of the route, but Correia is up to the task.

"This run, in many ways, is like a spiritual marathon," he said. "It will be difficult, like the battle of darkness was for me, but I'll be running towards the rising light."

Follow along with the journey, join up for some miles or make a donation on Graham Correia's Facebook page.

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