Prior to your visit, there were some who assumed your talk might be geared more towards the athletically inclined. How wrong they soon realized they were. Everyone, and I mean everyone, took something from your story and the way in which you’ve been living your life for the past 21 years. The members clearly comprehended that your message was less about running races and more about facing and meeting challenges and dealing with hardships, trauma,
disappointments, and life’s overall curveballs, without resorting to drugs and past behaviors that resulted in turmoil and the degeneration of their lives. In listening to the members after you left, it was clear that they better understood their need to dig deep, bring to the surface, and openly address the things they may still be burying, avoiding, minimizing, or resisting to discuss, and begin working on these issues with earnest tenacity in order to move forward in their process of healing.
Although DYC members are provided the groups, sessions, and forum to safely reveal and intensely confront difficult and often painful areas of their lives, from physical/sexual abuse, dysfunctional families, legal involvement, failed treatment attempts, relationship problems, shame, guilt, etc., so many attendees verbalized that your presentation helped to crystallize the reasons why it is imperative, for the sake of their longer-term recovery, that they do so.
Yes, your account of your life prior to making the decision to stop using drugs/alcohol was brutally honest and commanded attention in a way that was palpable, thus forging a strong connection with those lucky enough to have sat in those seats that day. Even more essential though, was the opportunity for them to see first hand how someone can maintain over two decades of sobriety and find true joy in life’s simple occurrences – each and every day.
You allowed them to see a man who, without fanfare, travelled several states away just to meet with them; your goal being that, perhaps, one life could be impacted by your example. The hours that you chilled, chatted, took pictures, laughed, and listened, meant so much to so many. You created an atmosphere of comfort which allowed them to ask questions, yearning for your suggestions and guidance on ways to meet some of their own personal challenges.
Todd, your zest for life is contagious. In you, the members saw strength and an individual who has persevered and continues to attain his position in life with “gratitude, humility, and empathy.” This is what they strive for and we thank you for helping to bring to light the unending possibilities of a sober life.
With immense gratitude,
Dynamite Youth Center