By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Kallup McCoy II likes to push himself. The EBCI tribal member from the Birdtown Community, who has been in sobriety and recovery for seven months as of Saturday, Oct. 28, has become a triathlete and hopes to bring a sprint triathlon event to Cherokee in the spring. He has been working with Jolene Matthews, a celebrity personal trainer who has worked with the cast of the “Real Housewives of New Jersey”.
Matthews reached out to McCoy after seeing a recent article in the Cherokee One Feather about his Rez Recovery Riders group.
“We’re going to gear the event towards the fight against addiction as she’s a recovering addict as well,” McCoy noted. “She asked me if I thought it would be better to do it up there in New Jersey or down here, and I told her, ‘with my community and my people right now, I think we need it down here.”
All of the particulars of the event are being worked out now including date, time, place, course layout, etc. “I was thinking of starting it in Ela Lake with a half-mile swim, and then getting on our bikes and riding through Birdtown, and then finishing with a run in town.”
When asked of his newfound passion for triathlon and extreme endurance sports, McCoy commented, “I just read a quote recently that I love because it applies to my recovery. ‘Recovery is an endurance race.’ When you get tired you sit down and rest, but you’ve got to keep going. You obviously cannot quit. And, that’s why I’m going to keep tackling these things for myself, for my family, for my recovery family, and I want everyone to know who’s battling substance abuse addiction that I’m doing my best to show them that I care and that anything is possible by continuing to put God first and through hard work and dedication.”
He hopes triathlons will take off in Cherokee, especially among the recovery community. “We already have some people who do them…and your fitness, your diet, your exercise, all of that goes right along with your sobriety. It’s just teaching yourself discipline. If you can get up, take care of your body, eat the right things, then you don’t really want to put anything bad into your body.”
As part of his effort to push himself physically and mentally, McCoy applied to be a part of the 2018 Remember the Removal Ride. “I was automatically disqualified because I have a felony conviction on my record.”
Since he won’t be able to join in the Removal ride, he has formulated another plan. “I’m going to run to Oklahoma in June. Everybody says I’m crazy, but when I say I’m going to do something, I try to see it through.”
He plans to run the same route that is traversed annually by the Remember the Removal Ride, the northern route of the Trail of Tears. “I’m going to start at the beginning of June. I’ve got the private financial backing already. I just want my community to know they’re a big reason why I’m doing all of this. I just want them to look at me and say, ‘look how hard he’s working’. I want to be a good role model.”
McCoy further explained his reasoning, “I know the run to Oklahoma is crazy, but if I can inspire just one person it’ll be worth it.”
He addressed Tribal Council on Thursday, Nov. 2 in an effort to have the Remember the Removal bike ride policy looked at for future riders. “I understand rules are in place, and I’m not holding anyone personally accountable for that, and my actions I have to live with that. With that being said, we need to have things in place so people can be involved in an honorable event like this and they can represent their Tribe…as long as they’re doing A, B, and C, why not let them be involved?”
He advocated for more programs for EBCI tribal members in recovery. “I just think we need to have all of these things now. Let’s quit talking about it and let’s do it.”
Big Cove Rep. Richard French commented after McCoy, “We all have addiction in our families. We have all lost loved ones to this…we can sit in here and preach all day long about the problem we have, but then once they try to help themselves, we’re slamming the door in our own people’s faces. And, then they have nowhere to run except back to their old friends and that same situation.”
He said it would be an honor for McCoy’s Rez Recovery Riders group to be on the Removal ride. “That would be an accomplishment for these young men and women that are trying to better themselves…I’d love to see you in that ride also.”
Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed, a Remember the Removal ride alumni, said it isn’t that Cherokee Choices, a tribal program which helps to facilitate the ride, or any other program isn’t in full support of tribal members in recovery. “The issue with the Remember the Removal Ride is this; that is not a program that the Eastern Band does on its own. So, that program was started by the Cherokee Nation in 1984.”
Chief Sneed said members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have only been participating for the past seven years. “Part of the MOU agreement that we have with the Cherokee Nation is they have guidelines in place, and we have agreed to abide by those. One of them is that if you have a felony conviction, you cannot participate.”
He said the Tribe might be able to see about that rule going forward, but noted, “As it stands today, that rule in on the books. So, we can look to amend that.”
Several Council representatives, including Wolftown Rep. Jeremy Wilson, a Removal ride alumni, and Birdtown Rep. Boyd Owle advocated for McCoy to possibly think of taking a group of his own in the future.
“That might be something we can look at in the future,” said Rep. Owle., “to help these people who are in recovery.”
For more information about any of the programs McCoy is involved in, contact him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kallup.mccoyii.3