Marathon Blog

Why I Run for a Cause: Cliff Kalish, Path to Recovery Foundation

I’ve been running the Naperville Half Marathon every year and raising money for charity since 2017. Tragedy struck our family in 2016 and it means so much to me to raise funds and awareness to help battle addiction (substance use disorder). I grew up in Naperville with my parents and 3 brothers. I’m 45 years old now and I still live in Naperville with my wife and 4 kids. Here’s my story.

Monday morning May 16, 2016

The start of what I thought was a normal week. I was travelling to Ft. Lauderdale for work and the plane was getting ready to land. I noticed as soon as I powered on my phone it started buzzing as my wife Heidi was trying to call. I texted her and said I would call once I landed-she responded saying her and the kids were alright, but I should call as soon as I could. I immediately got that horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that something bad happened. All I can really remember about calling back is the sadness in her voice shakily saying, “to brace myself, Randy had been found dead that morning from a drug overdose.”

Randy died of a heroin (fentanyl) overdose. He was only 29 years old. We didn’t know he was battling addiction so you can imagine what a shock this was to me and all my family. After he passed away, we found a card in his wallet for an addiction counselor which brought forth the realization that he was aware of his substance use disorder battle and he wanted to overcome it. Everyone deals with loss-that’s a part of life, but I think it was then I knew that I personally wanted to fight back and help those battling substance use disorder. I’ve always believed there’s a way back if you’re willing to fight for it.

At the time, I didn’t realize how big the opiate epidemic was becoming in our great country. Every day, almost 200 people die after overdosing on opioids including prescription pain relievers, heroin and fentanyl. Roughly 25% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. In fact, 80% of heroin users first misused prescription opioids. We believe my brother was one of those 80%.

My whole family is heavily involved in this fight. I’ve been raising funds and awareness for a PATH to recovery Foundation in Naperville. My father, Don Kalish is the president and my mother, Roberta Kalish heads up the PATH grief support group. I’m a board member as well.

I’ve been the top fundraiser at the Naperville Half Marathon from 2017-2022 and collectively we’ve raised over $160K for the fight! I’m looking forward to continuing the cause for years to come (hopefully my legs will aid me 😊)!

PATH Information

PATH is a not-for profit foundation committed to supporting, educating, and promoting recovery for individuals and families struggling with substance use disorders. PATH now also provides recovery coaching services using a strength based, supportive approach designed to teach individuals and families how to sustain a healthy approach to their own recovery. All donations will be used to help us to continue to provide these to the communities we serve. Besides PATH family support services, donations enable PATH to provide free or reduced cost recovery coaching services to the individual or family in need of these services. Our program is 16 weeks and provides a great foundation of recovery. 

Also, if you or anyone you know is having addiction issues, I’m happy to discreetly put them in contact with the right people to get started on their path to recovery.