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Students from school across the county will be at Neligh-Oakdale on Monday, March 20, to hear from national motivational speaker and BMX star Tony Hoffman. A former drug addict, Hoffman spent time in prison and hit rock bottom.
But unlike most, he dug himself out of the darkness for sobriety and incredible success.
The organization Antelope County Does Care (ACDC) is sponsoring the event with help from a grant, local schools and the generosity of many businesses in the county. While schools are still confirming attendance, it’s likely every county school will attend.
“The hope is to get kids to hear first hand from people like Tony - those who have been through that dark path but able to break through and talk to kids on how not to go there,” Sheriff Bob Moore said. “We can tell them this, but they need to see someone walk out of that lifestyle. This will help get that message home.”
Moore said more and more clinical dependency issues are being seen in Northeast Nebraska, and he’s hoping Hoffman can reach students who need to hear the message.
Hoffman’s BMX career started in high school, as he was a top-ranked BMX amateur with multiple endorsements.
He started drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, and using prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and Oxycontin by his senior year. His life took a turn for the worse as he became addicted at such a young age, losing everything.
In 2004, he committed a home invasion armed robbery and was ultimately sent to prison for two years in 2007. Hoffman began rebuilding his life’s purpose while he spent two years in prison. As soon as he was released, he used the positive and negatives of his life to get to where he is, today.
Hoffman is currently ranked No. 2 in Masters Pro class and is a 2016 Rio Olympic games coach.
“We need help from the community to bring Tony to help our youth,” Moore said. “It’s expensive to bring in this good of a motivational speaker, and we’re hoping parents, grandparents, businesses will step up and help us to raise the needed funds.”
Hoffman is the founder and director of The Freewheel Project, a non-profit organization that mentors thousands of youth through action sports — BMX, skateboarding and after-school programs.
The Freewheel Project focuses on teaching kids leadership skills, and making healthy life choices, including substance abuse prevention, each year. In 2016 he also began writing his first book, titled, “Coming Clean.”
Moore said heroin use, besides meth and other drugs, is a valid concern in the area, especially with youth. He said there are a lot of crimes being committed due to drug use, and hearing Hoffman’s story may help some youth from choosing the wrong path.
“Part of the resurgence is in heroin use in bordering counties,and our fear is that it’s only a matter of time until it’s here. The incarceration rate is increasing with meth-related issues, stealing, violence and other crimes,” Moore said.
Donations to help cover the costs of bringing Hoffman to Antelope County can be given to the Antelope County Sheriff’s Department. Please note ACDC on the memo line.