PHOENIX — A Valley man took part in the third-annual Race for Recovery in San Francisco this weekend, swimming with leg cuffs and running with handcuffs to symbolize the struggle with addiction and what it takes to overcome it.
Michael Murtaugh, a recovering addict, and Kim Humphrey, a retired Phoenix Police commander, are hoping to inspire others to rise above their hurdles in life, especially anyone dealing with an addiction.
Murtaugh swam one and a half miles with leg cuffs and ran seven miles with handcuffs. He said it required a lot of strength and endurance.
"Instead of my feet being parallel, they were dragging and I could feel them dragging from the weight of the shackles," said Murtaugh.
"Because of the current or the fog, the way they took us, it ended up on one of the racer's Garmin’s being 1.9 miles.
It was the same kind of strength Murtaugh needed to overcome an addiction he battled for more than 30 years.
"I started using at 11 years old, when I first smoked pot and drank alcohol,” he said.
“By ninth grade, I was doing cocaine, I tried meth, I tried pills, I tried acid and it just fueled from there until I was 45 years old."
Murtaugh spent times in jail because of addictions.
"Without my faith, I would have never made it through rehab, I would have never made it to this point,” said Murtaugh.
“It's actually very redemptive as I stand here in front of you today."
At the end of the course, Humphrey unlocked Murtaugh's handcuffs to symbolize his freedom from addiction.
"I was ready to cry," Murtaugh said.
"Having him take those cuffs was so symbolic of where my life was when I used to be in these and where my life is today, that I choose to put them off and prove to people that they can be taken off, breaking the chains of addiction."
Murtaugh showed the world, that while overcoming an addiction is hard, it can be done with perseverance and determination.
"To help people get out of their addictions and to have the life that they were designed to have is priceless to me," he added.
Murtaugh has been sober for more than nine years now. Through his recovery journey, he's raising money for Parents of Addicted Loved Ones, also known as PAL.
It's a program designed to provide hope through education and support for parents dealing with drug and alcohol addicted loved ones. For more information, click here.