I’m being 110% when I say this: Never before in my life have I actually shed tears during an assembly. When I was sitting there in those seats, I felt a new sense of inspiration that I usually don’t find easily. Many anti-drug presentations have been put in front of us, but none so passionate and so caring as Tony’s. When Tony came off the stage to talk to the students, he looked exactly like their parent or older relative sharing bits of wisdom. Every single word he spoke went straight to my mind and soul. I left that room feeling a sudden surge of creativity and motivation to do something great and thats exactly what a speaker should do to their audience. What an experience
— Emma Raber- Student- Oak Harbor High School

Last week I spent some time in Ottawa County, Ohio to give some presentations and see what the community is doing about fighting the opioid epidemic our county is facing. If you don't know, the state of Ohio is being hit the hardest by the heroin/Fentanyl problem. This trip has been in the works for probably a solid year now. I was contacted by Sheriff Levorchick sometime last year about the possibility of coming to his area of Ohio to speak. Of course I wanted to get my boots down on the ground in Ohio because I believe that my story of substance abuse and my ability to speak could really make an impact in that state on a preventative level. Sheriff and I have become friends over the time leading up to this presentation, he even came to see me, with some high ranking officials in the spring time, speak to a large group of students in a county just outside of his. 

The time finally came for me to land on the ground an do my speaking thing. I must say I had one of the most amazing experiences while I was there. The Port Clinton Kiwanis Club raised the money to bring me in for this tour and they were very involved, I mean hands on from start to finish! I was shuttled around by various members who helped make all this happen, they came to watch me speak with the kids and even took me on a private boat ride across lake Irie to Put-In-Bay for a nice dinner on Thursday evening. 

The response from the kids was overwhelming. So many messages poured into my inbox and comments were left on my instagram about how much the youth really enjoyed my message. I'm telling you, not preaching to the kids and telling them my life story has been the most effecting speaking style for the younger crowd. I mean, it helps that i've been through some really wild stuff but nonetheless, i'm still getting messages about how thankful some students are about my time with them. 

It wasn't just speaking to students that went down while I was there. I visited the local jail and gave some words to the inmates and also I spent sometime at a local halfway house, "Lighthouse" program run by a young man named Ken Bowers. The drug court judge showed me some very cool things they are doing in this community. Would you believe me if I told you the drug court judge and a few others opened the "Lighthouse" with their own money to help these people struggling with addiction.. UNBELIEVABLE. To top that off, I sat in on the drug court, behind the scenes, and what I witnessed was unthinkable. I literally watched the leaders of the courts, probation and people in recovery like Ken Bowers, discuss individually cases of those who were addicts. They were throwing ideas around about individuals and how they might be able to help them instead of locking them up and sending them to prison. Most know by now that we can't arrest ourselves out of this addiction issue. There is no way this kind of talk is happening in Fresno, California and or most of the places around the country. It was so inspiring to see people who actually care working toward solutions instead of just running people on assembly line to jail. 

I'm super grateful I got to spend a couple days in Ottawa County and make more friends in the area. So many kids were impacted and I was given such a boost of hope when I saw what the leaders of that county are actively doing to make a positive difference. Kudos!