By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Kallup McCoy II, an EBCI tribal member, is a busy man. He can be found each day training for extreme running challenges, working on a podcast, and educating people about the reality and dangers of substance abuse.
“Everything is opening up because I’m carrying out God’s will for exactly what he saved me for, to help heal and give hope to others by loving and supporting those who are struggling because I know what it’s like,” said McCoy, who is in recovery from his own past addictions. “I have an understanding of these issues, and I’m open-minded because I understand that blessings don’t come to us. They’re supposed to flow through us. We’re not supposed to hang on to those things. We’re supposed to give it back.”
Educating others, especially youth, about substance abuse and recovery efforts is now one of his focuses, and he has started a bi-weekly podcast called the NCRaw (North Carolina Recovery Always) Recovery Podcast. “We believe in multiple pathways to recovery and that includes medicated-assisted treatment, faith-based, or someone doing it on their own. Whatever it may be, if it’s helping you become a better and more productive person and you find your drive and your passion again, we’re all about it.”
The podcast, which is produced at Western Carolina University (WCU), can be heard online at: https://www.ncraw.life/.
The three hosts of the program are McCoy, Stephen Steen, and Richie Tannerhill. Courtney Stiwalt, who recently earned a bachelor’s degree in music from WCU, is the producer and director of media. The project itself works under the mission statement, “We are a team of recovery advocates with a mission to educate the general public about substance misuse disorders and methods for sober living. We hope to empower the individual and to assist the community in defeating the stigma associated with recovery topics by sharing stories that prove that recovery is happening around us every day.”
McCoy is also currently hosting a logo contest for his group, Rez Hope Recovery and Consulting. “It’s a personalized logo combining strength, healing, and our traditions.” The winner will receive $100.
“My vision is building a healthier community and support those who are struggling with not just substance use and mental health issues, but people who struggle with trauma of any kind and hopelessness,” he commented. “I believe that if we start building a healthy community we control the supply by decreasing the demand for drugs. That goes back to educating our kids because the things that we’re going to teach them, the positive and healthy choices that they learn to make, then they can go home and change their family’s life if they’re struggling. It is all going to filter down if we can go and witness to the kids and help them make better choices and learn leadership skills.”
He has met with some area school officials and has a few more meetings upcoming on that issue – educating the youth about those struggles. “We’re hoping to go ahead and start setting some goals on how we can get early prevention programs implemented.”
McCoy will be doing a program with the Cherokee Children’s Home staff later this month. “That’s just going to educate them and enlighten them on how to best meet the kids where they’re at because there is a right way to approach those who are struggling with trauma, substance use, and mental health issues.”
Next month, his group is hosting an event with the youth at the Children’s Home where they will have a cookout, play games, etc. “We just need to let them know they’re valuable. So many people say, ‘our kids are the future’, but we’re not talking to them right now. That’s a problem. We need to ask them the questions. We might think we know what’s best for them, but by not asking, a lot of times, we don’t know what’s best.”
During that event, he’s going to talk with them about leadership and healthy choices.
In addition to everything mentioned, McCoy is training for several extreme running events. First off, he is running a marathon on Emerald Isle on Saturday, March 10, and one week later, he will run the Badwater 50K in Bald Head Island. “At the Badwater 50K, the race director for the Badwater 135, the world’s toughest foot race, is going to be present and I’m hoping to share my story with him and my vision for building a healthier community and the struggles and oppression that we’re going through as a people. And, I’m hoping that he’ll open up a spot for me in his July race.”
The first of May, McCoy is embarking on an incredible journey. He is going to run the Benge Route of the Trail of Tears. “In my run to Oklahoma, I’m going to run 1,300 miles, and I’m going to set aside the last 111 miles, and I’m going to try to complete that in 24 hours. I have to make at least 100 miles in 24 hours to qualify for the Badwater race.”
He commented, “I want to quote, ‘to whom much is given, must is required’, and that’s why I’m working so hard on my recovery because I hold myself to a higher standard and I know that I have to keep working at my recovery – going to classes, going to meetings, and just getting involved in the community and giving back. That holds me accountable to the things I said I’m going to do.”
McCoy concluded by saying, “For me to make the impact I want to make, I think it is imperative to seek struggles with tenacity and perseverance because that has a direct correlation with growth and leaving your mark on the world. Everything I’m doing is not about ‘look at me’. I’m saying look at you because we all have greatness in us, and we don’t need to be afraid to set high goals and go after them no matter the circumstances.”
You can connect with McCoy on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/kallup.mccoyii.3