Jessie Grieb began popping pills at age 17, sharing them with her boyfriend and brother at parties. By 21 she ascended into heroin and made her first trip into rehab. Two years later, both her boyfriend and brother were dead from drug overdoses.
Now at 27, the Pawleys Island, SC native, clean and sober for a couple of years, has embarked on a 2,000-mile walking journey that will make its way along Highway 17 into Richmond Hill Wednesday en route to her final destination in the Keys.
The walk, which began July 23, some 1,600 miles away in northern Maine, has been a way to help with Grieb’s recovery from addiction, her grief, and to give hope and education to people that she talks to along the way.
She pushes a jogging stroller full of supplies and her canine companion, Takodah. She's doing this to raise money for a nonprofit organization based in Georgia called Freedom to Grow.
We spoke to Grieb as she was leaving Savannah Tuesday on her way south.
She said she got her inspiration for this walk from a friend, Brett Bramble, someone who originated an East Coast walk in remembrance of his sister, who died from drugs. Bramble’s organization Freedom to Grow offers addicts a place in northern Georgia to recover and heal.
After struggling with her addiction and being in and out of rehab, Grieb went to Maine to “get off drugs” and walked with Bramble on his journey.
It worked. Bramble’s walk inspired Grieb to do her own.
According to the website Opioids: The Truth.com, someone in America dies every 11 minutes from an opioid overdose.
The biggest problem with drug addiction recovery, Grieb said, is dealing with the stigma. “People think if you’re an addict, you’re a bad person.” That’s not the case, she said.
“We live with the guilt and shame … the judgment from people,” she added.
The walk thus far has been challenging, both physically and mentally. She admits that she had not always been physically active -- she was downright out of shape, she said, with the walk beginning shortly after she began to detox.
Her journey took her through the streets up north during the cold of winter. She has experienced her share of blisters on her feet. She’s confident though that the worst is over, and the time spent through Georgia and Florida (before the summer heat) will be comfortable.
The walking expedition is "something bigger than myself, it's giving me purpose," Grieb said, adding it's giving her motivation to continue recovery.
If you would like to contact Grieb via her Facebook page to give her encouragement, go to:
To donate to the non-profit group Freedom to Grow, go here:
A Go Fund Me Page that will help out Grieb while she’s on the road (for motels, food, etc), has also been created. Grieb says any money left beyond her walking expenses sent to this fund will be donated to Freedom to Grow. That Go Fund Me page is here: