Preventing and reducing substance and abuse and crime takes time and effort. It’s a difficult and long-term struggle, and the opportunities for celebration are few.

That’s why it’s so heartening to learn that Prevention and Recovery Services of Topeka — better known as PARS — will have its first benefit Sept. 25. “Working Together for Health, Hope and Recovery: A Benefit for Prevention and Recovery Services (PARS)” will take place at the Topeka Civic Theater. Laurie Dhue, a former news anchor and recovery advocate, will be the keynote speaker.

But special note should be paid to the special recognition being presented that evening. The “Hero in Prevention and Recovery Award” will go to Max Wilson, who led pars for 20 years as its executive director.

As the group’s news release for the event notes, “Max is known in both the prevention and recovery communities, not only in Shawnee County but throughout Kansas.” He has shared his personal story of recovery widely, including at an event covered by The Topeka Capital-Journal in 2017. In short, after a 1981 arrest, Wilson was directed to a required 12-step program.

“It saved my life,” Wilson said in the 2017 article, noting that he still regularly attends meetings.

The mission of those working in the recovery community is simple: Change is possible. Change is wonderful. But it requires serious effort and dedication. Wilson’s turning his life around is remarkable. What makes him exceptional is then leading an organization benefiting the entire Topeka community for two decades.

There’s nothing flashy or glamorous about recovery. The toll of substance abuse and addiction is dreary, depressing and numbing. There are promising opportunities that sometimes go untaken. There can be anger and danger. There can, above all, be the fear that nothing will ever change, that nothing will ever or can ever get better.

Wilson’s story and career shows that’s not true. People do transform their lives. And they do take those opportunities to then transform their communities. And celebrating and marking such examples is well worth all of our time.

The event Sept. 25 is ticketed, and the ordering deadline is Sept. 18. You can pick them up online at www.workingtogetherevent.com or by calling (785) 266-8666. You can also find more information about the group and event at the PARS website, www.parstopeka.com.