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Deb Abraham Spalding

Locally, we’re at war. We’re not in an obvious battle, it’s a hushed one. Our casualties are many. Our enemy is addiction. Through the efforts of the Thurmont Addiction Commission (TAC), and several other groups and individuals, we’re starting to fight back in the Catoctin area.

Chris Schildt of Thurmont wasn’t our area’s first casualty of addiction, but his death was one that inspired collective action to do something to help and prevent addiction. In his case, a street drug addiction began after using prescribed drugs for a sports injury. Chris had a bright future ahead of him. He was an athlete, a 2009 graduate of Catoctin High School, a 2015 graduate of Shepherd University, he had a job, he coached youth sports, and he had recently become a father, when he died in June 2016 from an overdose, or bad batch, of heroin.

Chris didn’t want to die, but addiction has no geographic, demographic, moral, financial, age, or racial boundaries. We honor him, all who have passed, and all who battle addiction, by seeking solutions and resources in the Catoctin Community. It’s time that we all become proactive in attack to defeat this enemy from which no one is safe, because even if we don’t have an addiction ourselves, we may have a family member, friend, or neighbor who does.

Addiction is a disease that is believed to be caused by a genetic predisposition that can react to stimulants and immediately cause addiction. The reference to addiction in this article is not only on drugs since addiction comes in many forms, with drugs, smoking, drinking, and eating being the most obvious, and sex, tanning, pulling out your hair, and social media being examples of the less obvious.

Chris’ death was the spark of intention for his father and mother, Ed and Karen Schildt of Thurmont, who joined in the efforts of others who had already started fighting, healing, and helping to deal with this enemy they never saw coming. The Schildts’ path to recovery in mourning was to do something, anything.

Ed said, “We were supported tremendously when our son passed. We stood in a receiving line at Stauffer Funeral Home for ten straight hours with Chris’ death. We were supported during the days and weeks and months afterward. When clarity came back, we said, ‘What can we do? How do we say thank you?’ The Schildts held an educational awareness event in April of 2017, called “Introduction to the Enemy,” during which the auditorium at Catoctin High School was filled.

Ed explained, “The ‘Introduction to the Enemy’ event puts addiction in the room with you as the monster that it is, and then it shows you the struggles. In the end, you’re supporting those who are dealing with a disease. It’s not a problem. It’s a disease.” He added, “This is a topic


that doesn’t normally draw a crowd. It made people more aware. From that, the community said, ‘What’s next?’”

The result of that first event was a challenge for Ed and Karen to continue to step up. Former Mayor and current Thurmont Town Commissioner Marty Burns attended that first event and told Ed that his opinion of addiction had changed because of it. From that point, Marty involved the Town of Thurmont and there were follow-up meetings and then the opportunity to create the Thurmont Addiction Commission (TAC).

TAC stands upon three pillars: Educational Awareness (Ed Schildt, Pillar Lead), Support and Recovery (Myra Derbyshire, Pillar Lead), and Prevention and Outreach (Susan Crone, Pillar Lead).

Educational Awareness is the broadest pillar and encompasses everything; Support and Recovery is a positive thing because it’s all about supporting people in recovery or seeking recovery; and Prevention and Outreach, that’s where Susan Crone’s FUSE Teen Center comes in; young people are shown alternatives to prevent addiction and provide positive options and results.

TAC is a growing group of advocates, who are providing information and resources to the community and empowering those who are doing good things in this battle right now.

The FUSE Teen Center is one example of a program TAC is empowering. Susan Crone is the founder of FUSE, a teen center where participants are encouraged to interact with each other without technology. This program has been running for a while now, and participants are truly having a blast.

Susan is a tenured teacher at Thurmont Elementary School, who stepped up to do something about the addiction and suicide frequency she was noticing. She is joined by many volunteers to operate FUSE, and they’re currently meeting at the Trinity United Church of Christ on East Main Street in Thurmont. It is a social option for teens from sixth to twelfth grade, from 4:00-6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Fridays from 6:00-9:00 p.m. Teens may come to just hang out with each other, play games, and be creative, or they can bring homework and FUSE volunteers will do their best to lend a hand. They are always looking for ideas and volunteers.

“FUSE is a place where teens have the undivided attention of volunteers who are there because they care about the future for them. We will do whatever we can to help them find the treasures that are already inside them waiting to be found,” said Susan.

To learn more, check out FUSE Teen Center on Facebook.

Chastity Fox, founder of the Music is Medicine Foundation nonprofit, is an advocate for addiction recovery after losing her brother, Richard “RJ” Holmes, to a heroin overdose in October 2016. She is close to opening The Path—Peer Recovery Community Center, which will offer free peer-to-peer addiction support with certified Peer Recovery Specialists. This is another project that TAC is empowering.

Other services at PATH include music therapy, yoga, meditation, classes for the community, family support groups, job-seeking skills, resume writing, and other resources that help a person with addiction become a functioning member of society.

This resource center is located at 31B Water Street in Thurmont. TAC is supporting it and assisting with the operation. There is an immediate need for volunteers, especially a person to write a business plan and a grant writer. Other needs are for donations of furniture and things like a television. Like the Music is Medicine Foundation on Facebook or call Chastity at 240-440-2020 or e-mail

There’s so much that is being mixed in marijuana, cocaine, and heroin that’s not known. These aren’t pharmacists out there. They’re street dealers. They’re getting the cheapest ingredients to make the most profit, and they’re preying on people with addiction.

To become a warrior in our community’s battle against addiction, visit the Thurmont Addiction Commission on Facebook or seek out any of the resources in this article.

by Avie Hopcraft

Fall, with its beautiful autumn colors, is flying by, and the winter season will soon be closing in on us. Catoctin has definitely been busy this past month, as well as the town of Thurmont. Colorfest was a blast, and Sunday was a gorgeous day to walk around to all the vendors.

Many activities have taken place at Catoctin, such as makeup senior picture day, the Powderpuff Football game on October 14, the Sophomore Car Wash on October 22, and the ASVAB exam that took place October 25. One of the main topics that needs to be addressed is colleges—that time will be here before you know it, juniors and seniors, especially for you seniors! Multiple colleges recently visited Catoctin High School for the juniors and seniors to sign up to meet with them and hear about what their college has to offer, including Washington College, Penn State, Shepherd University, and Frederick Community College. Upcoming college visits include the University of Scranton on October 28, Hood College on November 2, Salisbury University on November 11, Stratford College on November 21, University of Baltimore on November 28, and Frederick Community College (FCC) on December 5.

So, all you juniors and seniors, if you can make it to these upcoming college visits, it would really benefit you: find out important information on what they offer and get a feel if one of these colleges might be a good fit for you and your educational goals. Also, check out the local community college, FCC, for you students interested in attending a community college to save money, and take some time to figure out what four-year university you really want to attend. Also, don’t forget to take advantage of the many scholarship opportunities; sign up for as many as you can, so you can get the most amount of money to help with college expenses. Even though it’s a lot of hard work in the beginning, it pays off so many times over in the long run. Juniors especially need to take advantage of college visits, scholarships, and other opportunities related to careers and colleges, because junior year is the pinnacle of your high school career, and it will be the grade colleges look at the most.

In reality, it’s tough nowadays for teens, with their loaded schedules, work, and other responsibilities; these days, everybody is expecting you to know what you want to do with your entire life, and it can be extremely stressful and overwhelming. So, that’s why it’s good to be prepared and have a general idea of what you’re interested in and what you’re not interested in. The guidance office always extends open arms to help you when you’re struggling; it’s good to talk to someone who has a general idea of what you’re going through in getting ready for college and life beyond high school. Just remember, your hard work pays off ten times over in the long run, and take advantage of the guidance offered to you to help you along the way. It’s okay to not know exactly what you want to do, but whatever you end up doing in your life, be hardworking, try your best, and surround yourself with others who will help you be a better person and give you a hand along the way.

Hall of FameJames Rada, Jr.

When Kim Wivell Gerrie was a young girl, she would watch her father when he played softball with different Thurmont-area teams.

“I wanted to step out on the field with him,” Gerrie said.

Gerrie went on to become quite the athlete. She played softball and ran track and field while attending Thurmont Middle School. Then, while in Catoctin High School, she played softball, soccer, and basketball. During her senior year, the softball team had a record of 21-1, losing only in the state championship game.

She graduated in 1990 and went on to Shepherd University to play softball. Although her team had a different coach each year, they still managed to have a winning record each year.

And, now, she will be inducted into the YMCA of Frederick County Alvin G. Quinn Sports Hall of Fame on February 7, 2015. She is one of eight inductees this year.


Her bio for the Hall of Fame reads:


KIM WIVELL GERRIE Record-setting Softball Pitcher

Kim Wivell Gerrie has set softball records at every level she has played. A versatile athlete during her middle school years with blue ribbons in several track events, it was softball where Kim excelled the most. She was a member of the Little League All-Stars that played in the Maryland State Tournament. At Catoctin High she participated on the varsity soccer team for four years, played basketball all four years, and was truly outstanding in her four varsity years playing softball. She was a first team MVAL selection, starting in her sophomore year and repeated every year afterwards. In her senior year she was All-Area Player of the Year. She went on to a record-setting career at Shepherd University, where she was inducted into the SU Hall of Fame in 2007. She still holds five Shepherd pitching records.


“When I walked into the room (the Hall of Fame), it was very humbling to see all of those athletes and coaches on the wall,” Gerrie said.

The other inductees are Troy Barrick, Stan Biggus, Richard Burgee, Stan Goldberg, Chery Poirier, Bill Stup, and Guy Whidden.

The induction banquet will be held at the Walkersville Fire Hall this month. This will be the 39th annual induction ceremony.