(EASTON, MD – MAY 11, 2017)
The Talbot County Department of Social Services recently sponsored a free Opioid Conference at the Talbot Community Center in Easton, Maryland. There were approximately 80 community members in attendance for the daylong event. The conference featured former BMX pro and recovering addict, Tony Hoffman, who told a powerful story of redemption.
Hoffman shared a detailed account of his experience as a BMX pro featured on the cover of a magazine in high school to his experimentation with drugs that ultimately led him to robbing someone at gun point to fuel his addiction. Having experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows during his battle with addiction, he has dedicated his life to bringing awareness around the country through motivational speaking.
Hoffman commented about first becoming a successful athlete in middle school, stating, “I began looking up to athletes on television and started mimicking how they acted – entitled.”
After giving up on BMX racing after high school, Hoffman no longer had an outlet to keep him involved and he began going to house parties. He told himself he was only going to use drugs one time, but that led to more frequent use. He stated, “One pill made me an addict. There is a doorway that exists. I had opened up the door the first day I tried drugs. Most people who have walked through that door are dead.”
Hoffman added, “I didn’t realize how much I was going to have to change to get to the other side of the door. Every day of my life now is working to stay on the other side of that door.”
He tried to get back into BMX racing in 2011, but it didn’t work out due to a severe knee injury. He founded the Freewheel Project in 2012, which has brought access to action sports to kids in the community in effort for youth to develop healthy life choices. About his new nonprofit, Hoffman said, “My calling wasn’t for me to be a selfish athlete. God told me I had a bike and to use it. The bike also gave me the microphone I use today.”
Following Hoffman’s speech, he spent time thoroughly answering people’s questions and providing motivational feedback. Lindsay Newcomb, LGSW, Parent Education Coordinator for the Talbot County Department of Social Services, comments, “Listening to Hoffman recount his experiences provided a sense of hope and inspiration to the audience, recovery is possible.”
The conference also presented two panel presentations from local residents sharing personal stories, law enforcement, parent education, peer support, and local resources. In addition to the presentations, many local agencies brought resources to share through informational tables. At the end of the day, the Talbot County Health Department offered an opportunity for NARCAN (Naloxone) training and certification. NARCAN is used to treat a narcotic overdose in an emergency situation. Approximately 25 community members were certified and distributed a NARCAN kit.
Partners participating in the Conference included the Talbot County Health Department, Dri-Dock Recovery, Talbot Partnership, Mariah’s Mission, Rising Above Disease, Maryland Coalition of Families, Eastern Shore Crisis Response, Recovery for Shore, Talbot County Sheriff’s Office, Shore Regional, Corsica River Mental Health Services, and Chesapeake Voyagers.