Local charity ready to 'tackle' opioids in Maryland while helping injured athletes

Posted at 3:23 PM, Apr 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-23 17:58:28-04

Ryan Brant’s athletic journey has been successful.

“Number five goalie in the country, top 50 recruit and decided to go to Ohio State,” said Brant.

It has also been painful.

“Four knee surgeries to a back surgery. Sprinkle in a few concussions, depression,” he added.

The 26-year-old from Edgewater recalled the mental toll it took on him when those injuries forced him to the sidelines.

“I had only known lacrosse and I had only known athletics. That’s where the depression kind of started to settle in a little bit, dealing with the loss of self identity.”

He dealt with it by abusing his pain medication. He said he took up to 20 Oxycontin pills a day.

“I didn’t understand how addictive pain meds are.”

With the help of family and friends he got past his addiction.  During his recovery he realized what he wanted to do with his life. Ryan transferred from Ohio State to Hofstra and when he graduated in 2013 he founded the nonprofit Positive Strides.

It’s mission: 

“To help other athletes who have sustained catastrophic or severe sports injuries overcome those injuries, whether it be mental, whether it be physical or even financial,” said Brant.

Ryan says his organization has helped over 170 athletes in 13 different states.  This Sunday Positive Strides will hold its inaugural Tackling Opioids Walk to raise awareness about the problem in Maryland. 

“This has become a major issue that we’re getting a lot of phone calls for.”

All the funds raised will be put toward starting a prevention education program for several high schools around Baltimore.

“We wanted to be able to utilize the power of sports and our mission - trying to provide the prevention education to reduce those injuries - but also address an issue that is growing within the sports community, let alone the community as a whole."

So far Positive Strides has raised about $8,000.  The goal to start a pilot program is $83,000. 

That’s Ryan Brant’s passion now: helping the next generation of high-level youth athletes make the right decisions before, during and after their athletic journey.

“If you can change one person’s life by sharing your story and everything that you’ve been through, that’s one person that won’t hopefully go through that. That’s the beauty of it.”

More information about the walk:

Follow Shawn Stepner on Twitter @StepnerWMAR and Facebook