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President & CEO John Hyatt At Higher Ground... A Love Story

President & CEO John Hyatt delivered these remarks at the HIGHER GROUND... A Love Story event on September 19, 2019 in the Grand Ballroom of The Wisconsin Club.

Special guests included Richard Wold, a multi-platinum songwriter for international recording artists such as Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Anne Murray, Johnny Mathis, Peabo Bryson and many others. As Richard’s dreams were realized, his family life would include his oldest son, James, following in his musical footsteps, playing alongside of his father in recording studios, live performances and commercials, lending his musical gift to many original songs. Father and son were described as a most notable force in the entertainment and recording industry… until another force would change the course of their lives forever.

HIGHER GROUND… A Love Story honored lives lost and found by alcohol addiction, with proceeds benefiting IMPACT’s free services that support individuals and their families.

First, let me say that I am overwhelmed.

Welcome everyone and thank you for being with us this evening.

Tonight, I speak to all of you as a father when I say that I am in awe of the courage that Richard and Chrissy have given to us.

Richard’s lyrics, A BROKEN HEART BREAKS FREE, could easily be an anthem for any one of us who has taken that call in the middle of the night, or who wonders, ‘how many times are too many times?’ and answers it with ‘I don’t know.‘

You heard a first-hand account from James whose greatest love became music.  And later his admission that he brought alcoholism to Nashville – another love.

Alcoholism is a disease that is shared. It’s shared by family, friends, employers and, eventually, it becomes over-shared. People lose their jobs; their relationships crumble; family members throw up their hands and say, ‘enough.’ 

For those who love the alcoholic, it’s been described as being held hostage with the endless worry, ’will they use again?’

Words like enabler or co-dependent may serve to define a behavior or become titles of books, but these expressions cannot begin to measure the burden of uncertainty and the loss of dreams and expectations that have now become unrecognizable.

For those of you who have lived it – who are the children, or the mothers or fathers, or the brothers or sisters, or spouses – you know only too well the sorrow, the guilt, the regrets that the disease of alcoholism imposes.

In the story we heard tonight, it would be so easy to place blame on an industry that encourages drinking whether it’s in a studio, before a performance, during a performance and then after. But the arrival to this disease is complex and it almost always defies explanation or reason. 

It is a force, like any storm that becomes unstoppable until that one day…

that one moment happens that allows someone to say, ‘today is the day.’

It happened for James.

He continues to be sober, nine months and four days this evening. ..that’s 292 days of courage, determination, regret, and hope.

It could serve as a happy ending, but it’s not the type of a story that has an ending, so I will leave you with this tonight:

We ask much of those in recovery, and tonight we ask much from all of you. For your support so that another love story can continue.

It’s the one that promises that this organization called IMPACT will always take your call in the middle of the night or any time of the day…365 days a year.

We promise that we will honor your journey and meet you wherever you are. You are not alone.

Watch the video presented at IMPACT's event, Higher Ground... A Love Story, on September, 19, 2019.