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Haeger memorial walk and run aids Daybreak

Losing a family member, especially a child, is never easy.

Just ask Ron and Karen Haeger, whose son Justin, 21, died of a methadone overdose on Easter Sunday of 2006.

Ron Haeger said he doesn’t believe he’ll ever get over the loss of Justin. “But it’s gotten easier. When he died, a part of me died,” he said.

The Haegers wanted something good to come out of their son’s death, so they launched an annual walk and run in memory of him. This year’s run is scheduled for June 21 at Spokane Falls Community College, with proceeds again going to Daybreak, a Spokane nonprofit that offers inpatient and outpatient treatment for teens dealing with drug and alcohol abuse. Daybreak has received close to $80,000 from the race.

Justin Haeger’s addiction to prescription drugs led to serious problems in his last two years at Mead High School. He was expelled during his senior year, but later managed to earn his diploma. He was working in construction before he died.

The Haegers used counseling and recovery programs and were often encouraged about their son’s progress. But, Ron Haeger said, “he was smart in a lot of ways. He buffaloed the counselors. He buffaloed me.”

Karen Haeger will be walking the event and Justin’s three older siblings will participate as well. Ron Haeger has completed several marathons, but an ankle injury forced him to take up cycling instead.