September 11, 2006, Casey Coleman stood up in front of a small group in downtown Cleveland and said: "Hello. My name is Casey Coleman and I am a very grateful and very slowly recovering alcoholic."
This was the side of Casey Coleman that most sports fans never saw. The Cleveland sportscasting pro had struggled for years with his addiction to alcohol. He wanted his recovery to become an example for others coping with the disease of alcoholism.
He was passionate about helping the staff of Recovery Resources and became a huge advocate for the Cleveland organization helping to conquer substance abuse, addiction and mental illness.
"It was due to his passion and his heart,” Ron Horvat, director of development at Recovery Resources said “I could never say thank you enough to him. I'm just glad to have known him."
Charlotte Rerko, a rehabilitation director at Recovery Resources, told Channel 3's Mike O'Mara that Casey was comfortable using his fame to help others.
"And it didn't mean that he was just Casey Coleman, the famous sports announcer," said Charlotte. "People recognized that, but it was once you were with him, it was his heart that you always spoke with."
Donna Zunt is a recovering alcoholic who knows about Casey's courage first hand.
"We would share stories and we would joke one Irish drunk talking to another Irish drunk,” Zunt said. “And there was always that communion with us.”
For his close friends, Casey enjoyed showing off his sports memorabilia. His broadcast career was filled with so many big moments. But it was the private moments helping men and women in their battle with addiction that will shine like a beacon after his death.
"He was dying, he knew he was dying, it was no secret," said his friend, Donna. "And Casey was going to die sober. I think that was the most important thing for him, to die sober."
As Casey liked to say at the end of his radio broadcasts, he's "rounding third and heading home."