Runnin’ Documentary

“Runnin’” takes an intimate look at a group of friends who came of age as an epidemic took hold and morphed into a national nightmare. The film goes inside a tight-knit community just outside Boston grappling with the crisis. It retraces the lives of friends lost, and one last member of the group struggling to avoid the fate of his boyhood pals.
When the phone rang at 1:32 am on January 9th 2014 at the Foster home on Lexington Ave in Somerville, it was the emergency room doctor telling Maureen her son, Alex, was in serious condition at the Somerville Hospital E.R. and she should come there immediately. Alex, the 28 year-old son of Mike and Maureen Foster, died of an overdose after suffering through nine years of Opioid addiction before his parents arrived that night.
Somerville, like so many towns in Massachusetts, had been hit hard by what now had become a national epidemic. To date in Somerville there have been over 30 overdose deaths just in Alex Foster’s circle of friends from school and childhood.
“We’ve chosen a path of advocacy to honor our son,” remarked Mike. “Our plan was to be open and out in front of the stigma and social pressure associated with addiction. We refused to hide it.”
In 2015, the Fosters, with the help of family and friends, started their 501-C3 charity, The Alex Foster Foundation (AFF).
“Our foundation exists to educate and raise awareness of the opioid epidemic, and to help substance users as well as their families and loved ones” explained Mike.
“We have been able become an annual benefactor of the CASPAR Emergency Care Center on Albany Street in Cambridge, where Alex spent a lot of time. The facility was built on the MIT campus on land donated by the school”, Maureen added.
AFF also offers a community service with the hosting of their GRASP grief support group that meets monthly at Column Health in Davis Square. GRASP is a national organization that supports local chapters with structure, materials and social media. GRASP stands for Grief Support after a Substance Passing.
“The GRASP website is powerful and every month it directs many new people to us who are seeking support and understanding” Maureen explained. “I am sorry to say that the turnout has been very good. The topics we discuss in group sessions are specific to a substance use loss which makes the meetings different from other grief support groups. The feedback we receive from members indicates other grief support groups may not always understand substance use and the complicated grief this loss creates.”
Maureen also devised a Backpack Program that makes backpacks filled with things you need when you are homeless, available to anyone in need and distributed by CASPAR.
While Alex Foster was battling addiction, Alex Hogan, another young man in the circle of friends from Somerville, was involved with trying to build his career at Stat News.
Stat is a health-oriented news website launched on November 4, 2015 by John W. Henry, the owner of The Boston Globe, Boston Red Sox, etc. It is produced by Boston Globe Media and is headquartered in the Globe’s own building in Boston. Its executive editor is Rick Berke, who formerly worked at both the New York Times and Politico.
Alex was part of the generation being swallowed up by the Opioid crisis in Somerville, but somehow had not stepped into the world of OxyContin like so many of his boyhood friends.
“I remember him telling me when he called to ask me if we might be willing to participate in the “Runnin” documentary. Its’ inception and how he had come to be the Director sounds almost scripted” recalled Mike. “He said that while working at STAT he was often taking time off to attend wakes and funerals. When someone asked why he had been attending so many funerals, the answer made it clear to Berke and others that there was a story here that needed to be told to everyone.”
Alex Hogan explains, “In 2016, 64,000 people in the U.S. died from drug overdoses. That number was driven largely by an epidemic of opioid abuse. Communities all over the country are losing friends and family members to this crisis at a terribly high rate. I know this firsthand, because I grew up in one of these places: Somerville, Massachusetts. I began thinking about how to tell the story of what happened to my circle of friends, and that turned into “Runnin’”, our award-winning documentary.”
The Alex Foster Foundation, along with the Somerville Department of Health and Human Services and the Somerville Office of Prevention, is sponsoring a free showing of the award-winning documentary “Runnin’” at Somerville Theatre on Monday April 15th, right in Davis Square.
The Alex Foster Foundation sincerely hopes you will consider joining them for this event.
So many lives have been altered by opioid addiction and the chaos it reaps. Many people think that addiction is not a social topic they need to be concerned with because it will not ever affect themselves or their loved ones. However, one in ten people in the United States are either involved with opioids or know someone that is.
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