Tyler Thirlby

"If I can help one person, touch one family so they don't have to go through what my family went through, so one kid doesn't have to end up like Alex, one pair of parents don't end up like the Grizzel family, that's worth it. One is better than none."

Tyler Thirlby, 23, a Traverse City native, battled

with addiction to opioids and heroin for eight years before he started on the road to recovery. He was just 15 when first exposed to drugs and alcohol. Alex Grizzel, Thirlby’s best friend, also struggled with this battle for virtually the same reasons. Unlike Thirlby, Grizzel lost his battle to the disease of addiction on October 14, 2017.  Struck by shock and disbelief, Thirlby learned of the loss of his friend while in treatment .

Thirlby has shown immense strength as well as

showing resistance to caving in with grief. He instead took his best friend’s death as an opportunity to share the dangers of addiction. To help heal and spread awareness, Thirlby organized a charity hockey game in partnership with Alex Grizzel’s mother Anne, in February 2018, to honor Alex. Thirlby gathered the former teammates

and rivals of his best friend to play, organized a silent auction, had jerseys, bracelets, and shirts made, and even participated in the game. Together, the two organized and hosted an event like no other.

Thirlby’s bond with the Grizzel family has deepened

and continues to grow. Thirlby is still actively working on recovery and continues working diligently to spread the word about the dangers of addiction, and meets regularly with East Middle School students to prevent other students from traveling his path.

Top Left: Tyler & Alex

Top Right: Tyler at Grizzel's Game

Bottom Left: Alex & Tyler

Bottom Right: Alex & Tyler on the ice