Oklahomans working to destigmatize mental health and substance use struggles are being recognized during Dodgers games this season
in partnership with Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma City Dodgers are partnering with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) this season to help #StrikeOutTheStigma and increase awareness on the topic of mental health and substance use in our community.
The partnership focuses on education, advocacy and support to help destigmatize the connotations that come with mental health and substance use struggles. Oklahomans who are working to do so will be recognized throughout the 2022 Dodgers baseball season.
The second honoree of 2022 is Reggie Whitten, a practicing lawyer in Oklahoma City who spends his free time advocating about the dangers of substance abuse across the state following the death of his son in 2002. Whitten founded Fighting Addiction Through Education (FATE).
Whitten will be recognized during the Dodgers’ game against the Sugar Land Space Cowboys at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
“Through our partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, we want to help raise awareness on the topic of mental health by talking openly about the subject and providing educational resources,” OKC Dodgers President/General Manager Michael Byrnes said. “By sharing the personal stories of Oklahomans who have been impacted by, or work to provide, mental health and substance use services in our community, we want to help strike out the stigma and provide support to our fellow Oklahomans.”
Whitten’s son Brandon was a well-loved, popular kid who was homecoming king at Westmoore High School and went on to win a NAIA football championship with Southwestern Oklahoma State.
Unknown to many however, he became addicted to opioids, leading to a deadly motorcycle crash in 2002.
Whitten shares his son’s story through his work with FATE, wanting to change the stigma of how addiction is viewed.
“It is not a shameful thing,” he said. “It is a disease of the brain.”
He emphasizes that those struggling with addiction face a stigma that people afflicted by other diseases don’t.
“There is no stigma associated with cancer, diabetes, asthma or any other disease I can think of,” he said. “When your loved one gets addiction, there’s nobody knocking at the door to bring over food or give you a hug.”
Whitten notes that there are a myriad of resources available through the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and that addiction can be treated like any other disease.
He said it’s critical to make the public aware of the dangers of opioids.
“The need for this is greater now than ever,” Whitten said.
To read Whitten’s full story, visit the OKC Dodgers’ “Beyond the Bricks” website at: medium.com/beyond-the-bricks. Photos of Whitten are attached for use (credit: OKC Dodgers).
The Dodgers continue a six-game series against the Sugar Land Space Cowboys at 7:05 p.m. tonight and the teams play nightly through Sunday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
Friday Night Fireworks are set to follow Friday night’s 7:05 p.m. game.
Whitten will be honored during Saturday night’s 7:05 p.m. game. Saturday is also Marvel Defenders of the Diamond Night and the Dodgers will wear special edition Marvel-branded jerseys on the field. Special guests Thor and Star-Lord will be in attendance. A Braum’s Friends and Family group offer is available Saturday for groups of 10 or more to receive a game ticket, OKC Dodgers hat and meal voucher to use at any Braum’s location in Oklahoma for a special ticket price.
Following Sunday night’s 6:05 p.m. series finale against the Space Cowboys, kids can run the bases.
Live radio coverage of each OKC Dodgers game begins 15 minutes before first pitch on AM 1340 "The Game," 1340thegame.com and through the free iHeartRadio or MiLB First Pitch apps. OKC Dodgers games are also available streamed live on MiLB.TV with a subscription.