National News

Arizona man on a mission to Alcatraz

Posted August 9

— An Arizona man is racing the grueling "Escape from the Rock" duathlon at Alcatraz and also hoping to save a life.

"I'm here to tell you there's hope," said Michael Murtaugh of Cave Creek.

From the age of 11, Murtaugh suffered a cycle of addictions.

"Cocaine, alcohol and meth," said Murtaugh. "It ended up in failure with school, with relationships, plus stealing and jail time."

A seven-week stay at Calvary Healing Center in Phoenix, in his mid-40s, finally ended the cycle.

He has been clean for more than seven years, and is now "paying it back."

In addition to speaking and counseling in different rehab programs, he's using this year's "Escape from the Rock" to raise money to put someone else through Calvary.

The five-day detox, plus 30-day rehabilitation costs about $19,000.

Racing alongside him will be his friend, Charlie Webb, who took Murtaugh in when he got out of jail. He was homeless and addicted to meth at the time.

"I've known a lot of people who haven't made it. I looked at him and thought, 'This cat's not going to make it,'' said Webb from California.

Webb is also marking a milestone at the race, becoming the first paraplegic to paddle and wheel his way through the course, beginning in the water near Alcatraz.

"I get emotional because he's doing good things," said Webb. "This is a gift of life he's giving someone else."

To learn more about his cause, or contribute, visit


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