Third Annual Beat Addiction & Bad Habits Ribbon Event This Saturday in Merrill

After her recovery ribbon went viral, Merrill’s Boettcher of Inked Horizons was inspired to create an annual event to promote recovery and healing

TINA L. SCOTT
EDITOR

This Saturday, June 18, 2022, from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Deamon Boettcher and Inked Horizons will host the third annual Overcoming Addiction and Bad Habits Ribbon Event (OAOB Ribbon Event) at 1319 E. Main St. in Merrill.
The event is free and is designed to be different from all other events in the region. It is not a performance or a convention. This is not a trade show. It’s a matter of support. And be with others who understand. It is a place of community.
That’s the focus of this year’s event: Community.
Overcoming addiction or a bad habit is absolutely about community, Boettcher said. Whether it’s coming out of a traumatic life event or surviving something like addiction, abuse, neglect, alcoholism, self-harm or many other negative situations, the community can aid healing.
Bring a chair and “Come for an afternoon of support and be with others who truly understand wrestling,” Boettcher prompts.
The event was created to help people in our community avoid feelings of isolation, promote healthy activities and foster positive growth. No one should feel alone in their struggle, organizers say.
“Each year we host an event at Inked Horizons in Merrill to show people and the communities they live in that positive contributions can be made by people who have overcome such things. This year … [we] will include some of Wisconsin’s leading organizations working to bridge the gap between the world of recovery and the services these organizations can offer to help save lives while creating a bond of unity,” said Tina Beranek, Boettcher’s mother, who helps organize the event.
“No one heals or suffers alone. It takes a community to heal, and that’s what our message is this year,” she said.
“This event connects people whose strength and determination have provided them with a path to recovery, offers LIFE SAVE information (Narcan training) and educational building blocks from Wisconsin agencies on how others can achieve and maintain a healthy, positive, lifelong recovery. The event can and will provide participants with the tools to connect within local support agencies to receive needed help and services in their own journey. Well-known recovery personalities will be there to share their personal stories of sustaining recovery and how they reach millions of others who feel lonely, lost or helpless,” organizers say.
Wisconsin Voice for Recovery; Matt Jablonsky of The Point of Change, a comedian/motivational speaker/live broadcaster for addiction prevention and recovery, from Whitewater, Wisconsin; Kathleen Werner, recovery coach at Lighthouse Recovery Community Center in Sheboygan; and David Stanley. community coordinator at Wima, the Wisconsin Milkweed Alliance Peer Run Respite Center; are waiting.
Local organizations such as the Lincoln County Health Department, HAVEN, MAC Home and others, as well as local vendors will also be in attendance.
Plus, there will be a local bakery for sale, food trucks, raffles, and a pinata for the kids.
Narcan training and supplies will be offered after the event. Benjamin Bruso, supervisor of preventive services at Vivent Health, will share vital information and supplies.
And, of course, Boettcher will be offering salvage ribbon tattoos…the tattoo that started it all. He will be offering recovery ribbon tattoos the day before, during and after the event on Saturday. The cost of the tattoo is $50 and appointments are highly recommended as availability will be limited. For this event, customers can choose from a standard recovery ribbon design; customization will not be available that day.
The recovery tape that started it all
Boettcher, originally from Merrill, designed a recovery ribbon symbolizing release and healing and tattooed himself with the image in early July 2019. The image, of a ribbon separated by a chain that illustrates breaking the chains that bind, was inspired by all the colored ribbons people wear or use to symbolize something important in their lives, like breast cancer awareness. But Boettcher wanted something more. He really wanted to represent this concept of liberation. And he didn’t want it to be about awareness, but about recovery.
“It’s not an awareness ribbon, it’s an achievement ribbon,” he said. “It’s a question of responsibility and self-recognition. It is a question of will.”
“There have been ribbons formed for all kinds of realizations, but there has never been a ribbon formed for someone who has already recovered from a traumatic life event,” Boettcher said.
The birth of the symbol gave people courage, recognition, support and above all a connection that they did not have before.
“When I created the ribbon, I tattooed it on myself. I didn’t create it for a lot of people. I created it for one person. I said what it meant, [on his social media page]”, Boettcher said. “I’m used to 10 likes on my posts, 11 likes, and I woke up with 17,000 likes, and that was just day one.”
“There was another recovery advocate who shared my post, and he got 178,000 shares,” he said. “And it happens every year. Every time I think it goes off…recovery month is huge so people google recovery stuff and recovery tattoos and then the post goes viral again and it gets even more publicity . Boettcher said his phone crashed and sometimes disrupted his day because he couldn’t even get a tattoo, he was so buried in recovery stories. And that’s a good problem to have.
Ever since Boettcher’s ribbon design went viral, it has been and continues to be tattooed on people all over the world, with his blessing. It has also been personalized and tailored, with custom renditions tattooed on several of his personal clients.
While the art is his, the symbol is his and it will be trademarked, he gives his blessing to other tattoo artists to tattoo it on their clients as a symbol of their personal achievement and overcoming. [It, or any customized version of the original, cannot be put on merchandise or used in any other way or to generate a profit without his express permission.]
The meaning of the tattoo and the reason for this tattoo is personal to each individual who gets it tattooed on their body, Boettcher said. And he wants it to be.
For some, it means breaking free from a destructive habit or situation like alcohol or drug addiction, self-harm, or an eating disorder. For others, it means surviving a traumatic event, overcoming suicidal thoughts, or withdrawing from a toxic or violent environment or relationship.
Whatever it represents for breaking free, it is a symbol of achievement, a symbol of freedom and life, a symbol of survival and a symbol of hope, both for the survivor/overcomer and for others who see it.

Rufus T. Sifford