COLUMBIA — At one point during Nancy Howard's 45-year marriage, she said she was in a mental condition worse than her husband — who struggled with alcoholism — because of the stress it took to love and hate him at the same time.
“I finally said, ‘I love you, but I can’t live with you like this,’” Howard said.
In November 1964, Donald Howard began his recovery through a 12-step program and was very open about his progress and success. He went on to receive a master’s degree in counseling at MU. Later he became the director of the Family Counseling Center of Missouri.
After his death in 2005, Nancy Howard founded the Donald Howard Scholarship Fund. This weekend, she plans to host a lunch and turtle race event as the main fundraiser at Stephens Lake Park. Lunch is planned for 12:30 p.m. and costs $5. The turtle race will follow and is free.
The idea of coordinating a turtle race originated from the time she helped her husband organize a similar fundraiser in the early 1980s.
"We worked together on so many things," she said.
Before Donald Howard's struggle with alcohol, Howard said she had huge misconceptions about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs.
“I thought (alcoholism) was just for people on Skid Row,” she said. That was until everything in her life began to collapse around her husband’s alcohol addiction.
Howard said misconceptions about alcohol still prevail, but she hopes that hosting fundraisers through events such as the upcoming turtle race can bring awareness about the severity of drug abuse while celebrating the success of recovery.
“We have criminalized people with alcohol problems,” she said. Howard explained that people should feel equipped enough to face their drug problems in a healthy environment on the road to recovery, just like her husband did.
The fund awards two recipients each year with $1,000 scholarships that go toward their educational or vocational training during their life of recovery.
Howard's scholarship fund is about educating and celebrating life after drug abuse.
She said all proceeds from the upcoming turtle race will go toward the fund. The race is scheduled for Sunday, and Howard said she and her committee hope for a good turnout.
“A big thing is to have fun,” Howard said.
Contestants should plan to bring their own turtles, but the promotion bans "snapping turtles or turtles on performance-enhancing drugs."
Scholarships are awarded twice a year, and interested applicants can go to the Missouri Recovery Network website for a brochure and application.