An initiative conceived by Drew Harvey — a cross country bicycle trek in memory of two friends who died as a result of opioid overdoses — has taken on new life as the Sag Harbor resident pushes forward with a nonprofit dedicated to fighting opioid addiction by promoting the kind of activities and lifestyle that result in a natural high.
DawgPatch Bandits, formed by Harvey this spring, hosts two, free workouts a week and is planning larger challenges and fundraisers to support its mission, including a bike, paddle, run from Sag Harbor to Newport, Rhode Island and a Shinnecock Canal to Montauk Point swim, bike and run — both tentatively scheduled for this summer, Harvey said in an interview in late June.
“We want to promote a lifestyle centered around fitness, wellness and the natural highs that come with endorphin-releasing activities,” said Harvey, “We want to use this as a way to inspire people to live a better life and to challenge themselves physically.”
Harvey is not alone in this effort. Fellow Sag Harbor residents Nico McMahon and Kyle Sturmann, Payton Dwight, Matthew Sandley and Ryan Robbibaro — classmates of Harvey’s at the University of San Diego — are founding members of the nonprofit.
Harvey says it’s his hope people become involved through two weekly workouts, offered by the nonprofit to anyone, free of charge. Monday mornings, at 7 a.m., the group hosts a one mile swim at Long Beach in Sag Harbor, although Harvey notes the open swim workout is open to anyone at any level, whether they can complete the whole mile or not. On Thursday mornings, also at 7 a.m., the group gathers at Sagg Main Beach where Mary Angela Buffo of Ananda Wellness and Yoga Center in Southampton, offers a half hour class. Harvey and McMahon follow that class with weight training from 7:45 to 8:15 a.m. and end the two-hour workout with cardio — a run, walk and swim and beach cleanup.
Harvey believes Michael Semkus, a mentor and Sag Harbor native who died of a prescription pill overdose in 2016 inspiring Harvey’s first cross country cycling fundraiser, would have been a bandit himself.
“The focus of what we are doing is teaching individuals around us about how to engage in these kinds of activities and let everything else fall by the wayside,” said Harvey. “A lot of people who go down the path of addiction don’t have an outlet — and that is who we hope to reach and give access and a pathway to live in a way where they are challenging themselves and pushing themselves, like Mike pushed us, to live a healthier life.”