This Saturday: For Michael — the second annual Showdown on the Sound

At last year’s first event — Will Herling, right, and the rest of Team Four Little Birds, Sam Jackson, Emma Witschi, and Katie Balloch. — Dan Arestia photo

On Saturday, May 19, the second annual “Showdown on the Sound” event will be held at Weed Beach in honor of Michael Taylor. Taylor grew up in Darien, graduated from Darien High School in 2008, and from Villanova in 2012. Clearly Michael had a bright future, but his life was cut short in the spring of 2016 due to his battle with opioid addiction.

Michael’s family and friends soon decided that they wanted to make a change in the opioid epidemic that is currently sweeping the United States, and about a year after Michael’s passing the first “Showdown on the Sound” was held. The fundraiser was a huge success, bringing in over 400 attendees, supported by over a dozen local sponsors, and the over $250,000 that was raised was benefitted to Shatterproof,  a national nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting addiction.

See photos and video: ‘For Michael’ — Saturday’s event led the fight against addiction

At this year’s event there will be a live band, a silent auction,  a dunk tank, and food trucks. The day is centered around the “Build Your Own Boat” Relay Race. Growing up in Darien, Michael loved to spend time out on the water, so it’s fitting that many of his friends from home will be competing in the race in his honor. There are 30 teams, each of them bringing their home-boat vessels and racing them against each other, as well as competing to be the top fundraiser for Shatterproof in the months leading up to the event.

The event is truly centered around spreading awareness about opioid addiction and raising money to fight it. As for an intended audience, one of Michael’s closest family friends, Lauren Sullivan, said; “Showdown on the Sound is open to everyone. We’re trying to get rid of the misconception that some people have, thinking that because they live in a town like Darien, opioid addiction is something that won’t affect them.”

The event will definitely appeal to kids of all ages with its fun waterfront activities, but along with the fun, some of Darien’s youth will see how opioid addiction is something that anyone can face or be affected by, even if they live in a small town in Connecticut. In alignment with the Shatterproof message, Michael’s family wants to end the stigma associated with addiction, and wants people to see that it can and should be treated as a disease. With a strong support system and the right care, addiction can be fought and defeated by every person who faces it.

Michael’s best friend growing up, Will Herling, expanded on the message of the fundraiser, saying, “We hope to build upon the success of last year’s event by involving more of the community and creating a day that Mike would have enjoyed. This event is about three things: having a good time honoring the memory of our friend, son, and brother while also supporting the recovery community and removing the stigma associated with addiction.”

One of the biggest local supporters of the fundraiser is Rings End.

“Ring’s End is a company with deep roots in all the communities they serve, especially Darien.   When Michael, who worked at Ring’s End in 2015/2016, passed away the Ring’s End family jumped at the opportunity to support the Taylor family and any efforts to help fight the terrible disease of opioid addiction facing our local communities and the country at large.”

Thanks to the funds they receive from events like Showdown on the Sound, Shatterproof is able to fight for government reform in handling drug addiction. Most recently, this past November Shatterproof was able to create eight “National Principles of Care” for the treatment of addiction that will greatly improve the care that patients receive and hopefully save many lives.

Stop by Weed Beach on Saturday, May 19  from 12:30 to 6 p.m.  to enjoy an afternoon of fun by the water and help the Taylor family spread their message in fighting addiction. If you’re interested in being a sponsor at the event, contact Scott Herling ([email protected]) or Nick Eisen-Berkeley ([email protected]).