BRAINERD — Addiction impacts an entire family. In the case of Tyler Walsh of Brainerd, recovery also impacted his entire family.
After having lived three years in sobriety, Tyler, or Ty as his family lovingly calls him, died in a motorcycle crash on Highway 210 in Brainerd in 2021.
“I know for a fact he died happy and sober and with the love of God in his heart,” his mother, Catherine Walsh said in a news release. “We got to spend amazing time with him. He wrote tones of letters saying thank you.”
Catherine has one tattooed on her arm.
After years of addiction, Tyler found recovery and began living at Burlington Recovery Homes in Brainerd, a sober living environment.
“Burlington Recovery Homes is where my son finally felt safe, a sober resource in a crazy world,” Catherine said.
Throughout Ty’s years of addiction, Catherine had been buying books on addiction both for him and for herself.
“You have to be able to understand it,” she said. “My son didn’t choose to be an addict, he was a good person who made a bad choice.”
Having understanding helped her and her family, and that led them to the desire to create a tangible way to pass along that understanding to others. Modeled after little free libraries, Ty’s uncle and aunt built a tiny library with the goal of filling it with books specifically for addicts, recovering addicts and their loved ones. They decided to call it the “Ty-brary.”
“The Ty-brary just kind of happened. Wonderful people came into my life and brought it to fruition. Everybody has put some part of their heart into this library,” Catherine said.
The first Ty-brary was installed Saturday, July 23, outside of the sober home on Tyrol Drive in Brainerd where Ty was living at the time of his death.
It will be filled with books for parents of addicts, including books telling the story of other parents going through the journey of having a child with an addiction, and several books helping those who may be struggling with opioid addiction, painkillers or alcoholism, along with reflections for those recovering.
“Ty was a giving person,” Catherine said. “… Addiction is such an epidemic. Having some free resources will make a difference.”
The Brainerd Ty-brary is next to a garden setting with benches built by men living in sobriety at Burlington Homes.
“We had a beautiful year with our son, and that wouldn’t have happened without Gene and Sheila (Haverkamp) — the safe place they provided. They’ve been a blessing,” Catherine said.
Ty’s parents, Brian and Catherine Walsh, live in Duluth, and they plan to place the next Ty-brary in the St. Louis County Jail.
This labor of love is happening through Ty’s family, but the goal is for it to truly make an impact in Ty’s honor.
“If I help one person, one addict, I will make my son proud,” Catherine said.
1/5: Todd Woodhull cuts the post shorter before placing the library Saturday, July 23, 2022, for the installation of the first Ty-brary in Brainerd.
two/5: People gather Saturday, July 23, 2022, for the installation of the first Ty-brary in Brainerd.
3/5: A photo of Tyler Walsh can be seen inside the library Saturday, July 23, 2022, during the installation of the first Ty-brary in Brainerd.
4/5: Tyler Walsh’s parents, Catherine and Brian Walsh, look at the newly installed little free library, built for books for addicts, recovering addicts and their families. The Ty-brary, as they call it, is in front of the Burlington Recovery Homes on Second Street and Tyrol Drive in Brainerd. Tyler was staying at Burlington Recovery Homes. He was killed in a motorcycle crash on Highway 210 in Brainerd in 2021.
5/5: Some of Tyler Walsh’s books are the first placed in the little free library Saturday, July 23, 2022, in Brainerd.