HUNTINGTON — Richard Leegan’s stay in drug court was long and hard, according to his probation officer and judge.
Starting in 2018, Leegan went through several programs, including graduating from Recovery Point. He, along with the four other men who graduated from Cabell County Drug Court Monday, also endured the pandemic to make it through to graduation.
“The pandemic changed everything for everyone,” Leegan said.
But Leegan, Denny Gallian, Tommy Harper, Cameron Haynes and Matthew Thorton endured, becoming “beacons of light” for the active program participants, said probation officer Lauren Dodrill.
“To those of you who made it through the lockdown at Recovery Point, being locked inside for a whole year...” Dodrill said as she lead a round of applause.
“(The pandemic) impacted us in good and bad ways,” Leegan said. “But today we are back for the first time, and everyone is giving hugs.”
For many of the graduates, being excited for a hug might sound surprising. Leegan said it was still surprising he was in a courtroom receiving accolades.
Gallian said he was about to die when he entered the program in September 2019. Cabell County Circuit Court Judge Greg Howard said Gallian had the worst mugshot he had ever seen in drug court.
“Without you all I would be dead,” Gallian said, adding if he can do it, anyone can.
Harper joined the program just as the pandemic was beginning in March 2020. He was transferred from Kanawha County.
His probation officer, Matt Meadows, said it’s people like Harper who are why he does his job.
“Thank you for allowing me to do this,” Meadows said to Harper, “because this is what I feel I should be doing.”
Harper now works at Christopher’s Eats and said he plans to stay in the county for the time being.
“People get transferred here, and they get better and find that they like it and they stay — and that’s a good thing,” Howard said.
Cameron Haynes also transferred in from Putnam County in February 2020.
“I was covered in track marks from the tips of my fingers to my shoulders when I entered this program,” Haynes said.
Now, he works in the hospitals, meeting with overdose patients and talking about hope.
Probation officers also called Thorton a beacon of light, though he started out with “attitude.” Thorton said he still has his deficits, but with God and support of the program, he’s still standing sober.
Howard encourage the participants to move on and enjoy their lives and remember the bonds they have to lean on. To the participants in the program, including one new member, he said he hoped they gained some inspiration.