Tony Hoffman’s phenomenal presentation was one that not only inspired me but impacted the county. His message of hope, redemption, and change resonated with those in attendance and created a mindset of working together to combat the opioid epidemic that is ravaging our community. It was inspiring to see how Tony’s message resulted in young and old alike coming together to learn more about this epidemic, support and encourage one another, and join this fight as we press toward the road to healing and recovery.
— Yvette Sterling Cross Emergency Services Director Somerset County, Maryland

Maryland is a state on my speaking tour I visit frequently. The reason being is Maryland is having one of the worst issues with our country’s opioid epidemic. Sadly this state has been ripped apart by the current situation. Some areas worse than others, places like Somerset County that have less than 30,000 people have seen higher numbers of overdoses/deaths than previous years. This seems to be the trend across the country still and it’s disheartening, however, everyone comes together to try and slow things down and hopefully at some point we can see this epidemic end!

Somerset is a new area for me, although I did speak in Wicomico County a few years earlier which was not far from where I would be speaking for the 3 presentations I was ordered to give. My first speech for the day was at Crisfield High School. They brought in their 7-8th grade students to join the high school students for this presentation. Unfortunately, they had to leave before the end of it but the presentation went amazing. The kids were awesome, had great questions that went for a while and many wanted pictures afterwards. One of my favorite parts was the athletic director had me come and meet him in the cafeteria and told me that of all the speakers he’s heard I was by far the best and the kids were more engaged with me than any other speaker. I take so much pride in that because I work so hard and give my heart.

My second presentation was at Washington High School and I really enjoyed this presentation because this was a energetic group of students. At first I wasn’t sure if this group of students would settle in and listen to my story but they really went from being a little squirly to one of the most receptive groups of students I’ve spoken to. There was a really heavy point that I could feel the students give me all of their trust and it was during the portion that I told the kids about the homeless man I met with the night before. The kids seemed to really identify with that story and it really was the turning point. We didn’t have time for much Q&A but lots of messaged hit my inbox on social media that I was grateful to receive.

To finish off my time in Somerset I gave a presentation for the community. The county workers that put on these events really worked hard to make all of this happen and it showed. They bused in band members from local schools and had performances, a DJ, news crews, TONS of local resources available for people to learn about. This was the first event, so naturally the attendance wasn’t overwhelming but I always try to tell people, these things take time. It’s consistency that gets the crowds to grow. They could easily outgrow the building I spoke in over the next 2 years if they keep hosting this event, which I hope they do. Thank you so much to everyone apart of Somerset County that sponsored my trip to be with everyone, I am forever grateful!