Recovery First Tailgaters
“Who Are We?
We are a group of people that come together to celebrate fun events, free from mood-altering chemicals. What brings us together is Recovery First!! We celebrate any and all types of events through a tailgate party. It doesn’t matter the competition or for whom you may root, you are welcome to attend. The only requirement for attendance is a willingness to attend our events abstinent of mood-altering chemicals and respect our recovery. We gather in the spirit of Recovery First!!
Laissez les bon temps rouler!” (Let the good times roll!)
Recovery First Tailgaters was born on November 3, 2012 at Tiger Stadium, in celebration of the year’s highly anticipated LSU v. Alabama game. This community organization was inspired into existence by Dwayne Beason, a longtime man in recovery and owner of St. Christopher’s Addiction Wellness Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For many years, Dwayne, an avid LSU fan, and several sober friends hosted tailgating events under a tent with a banner that expressed their friendship with Bill W. Each week, opposing teams’ fans wandered over to the tent, remarked that they too were friends of the fellowship and were always enthusiastically welcomed by the LSU hosts. Often team rivals, both teams’ fans came together for their greater purpose, to gather and celebrate in the spirit of recovery first!!
Dwayne knew in his heart he had to share the magic that had been taking place at LSU, to encourage sober tailgating events all over the country. Sticking to the traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, he knew he had to find a name and logo that he could brand, publicize and give away. Alas, Recovery First Tailgaters was born. After Dwayne and I trademarked the Recovery First Tailgaters name and logo, we created the “tree flag,” a symbol that is shared freely to anyone who wants to hold sober tailgating events. You see, when the tree flag is flying high at Recovery First Tailgaters events, people know it’s a safe spot, a place to gather free of alcohol and all other mind-altering chemicals. How incredibly important this is not just to people new in recovery, but to all! We have tons of food, laughter and FUN tailgating sober!!!
There are benefits to hosting sober tailgating as a Recovery First Tailgaters event. Not only is there a real feeling of being a part of something bigger, but we will advertise your event! We have a website (RecoveryFirstTailgaters.com) and a Facebook page (facebook.com/RecoveryFirstTailgaters) and all events are shared here. Just connect with me, Felicia Kleinpeter, and I’ll start you on your way. I will email you the Recovery First Tailgaters tree flag logo, banner and flag proofs that you may have made in your team colors, and even a list of items you will need to have a successful tailgating. Then, I will add your event(s) to our schedule!! On our website’s Event Map page and our Facebook page, we include your maps and directions. This makes it really easy to share with others. Instead of risking that people don’t remember your location or having to explain the exact details verbally (this campus, that street, this lot, that space…), you just say “go to the website” and it’s all there!
Since our inaugural event in November 2012, Recovery First Tailgaters events have been held at LSU, University of Texas, University of Georgia, University of Alabama, UCLA, USC (Southern Cal) and University of Louisiana Lafayette. We are so excited that the list of participating schools is growing!! Our dream is to have Recovery First Tailgaters’ tree flags flying high on all campuses, at games and functions throughout the year!!
I would like to share a story with you that perfectly demonstrates why Recovery First Tailgaters is so important and special to us: At our inaugural event in 2012, we had 150-200 people attend from Louisiana, Alabama, and all over the country. The party was a great success – we had food galore, televisions showing other exciting games being played, games for children and adults, lots of water and coffee (people in recovery need this!) and laughter for hours.
After most people went excitingly on to the game (Alabama and LSU were ranked number 1 and 2 at the time), a few of us stayed back at the tailgating spot. I was sitting there watching the game with some friends when a man wandered up. He saw our flags and banner and asked if we were the sober tailgating party. I said “yes, we are” and welcomed him in. He looked at me with wide eyes, frightened, yet clearly relieved and said: “I NEEDED to find you.”
The man expressed that he was 6 months sober and was in town for work. He shared that he had heard about the event at a recovery meeting that morning, but couldn’t remember the name or where exactly we were located. He had been searching for us for an hour and a half through a campus filled with drinking and partying. When he entered our space, I personally saw him take a deep breath and relax and I could tell he finally felt safe. We encouraged him to make himself at home, he served himself a plate of food and we all watched the LSU/Alabama game on TV. He stayed with us for the rest of the evening and even greeted our guests returning from the game. As great as the whole day was, this man showing up and fellowshipping with us was the absolute highlight and the spirit in which Recovery First Tailgaters was created. We all felt humbled in knowing that we played a part in protecting that man’s sobriety, and potentially his life.