CHESTERTOWN — Frank discussions about addiction, recovery, prevention and choices punctuate the Kent Goes Purple campaign that wraps up Sept. 23 with appearances by nationally renowned speaker Tony Hoffman.
Once a top-ranked BMX amateur, Hoffman, a California native, had his life and career spiral out of control due to addiction to pain pills and heroin. He started drinking and smoking marijuana while still in high school.
Hoffman spent two years in prison for armed robbery and home invasion.
According to a biography on his website www.tonyhoffmanspeaking.com, Hoffman has been sober since 2007 and has dedicated his life to bringing awareness about the dangers of prescription pills and opioids.
He will tell his story Monday to audiences at Washington College and Kent County’s middle and high schools.
This is Hoffman’s first visit to the Mid-Shore. In an email, he said his previous stops in Maryland have been in Wicomico, Somerset and Harford counties.
Lt. Dennis Hickman of the Kent County Sheriff’s Office helped to bring Hoffman here after learning about the favorable reviews he received last year at Somerset schools.
“After researching Tony’s inspirational life story online and reviewing his many highly commended presentations, we decided he would be a good fit for Kent County,” said Andy Meehan, a member of the Kent Goes Purple Executive Committee.
On Monday morning, Hoffman will visit four classes at Kent County High School and be interviewed by student broadcasters of radio station WKHS 90.5.
He will be the keynote speaker at a luncheon in Washington College’s Hynson Lounge for community and business leaders.
In the afternoon he will speak to seventh- and eighth-graders at Kent County Middle School.
“My focus is going to be on my life story and how things happened and occurred for me. How you can go from the seats of a school auditorium to the unthinkable just a few short years later. I will stress that addiction is not a choice and how hard it is to recover once you’ve gone down the path of use,” Hoffman wrote in an email Tuesday night.
He said his talk at Washington College with business and community leaders will be slightly different. “It will be about communication to those in need and understanding how trauma leads people to substance use as a coping mechanism.”
Kent County Public Schools and the Kent County Health Department have partnered with Kent Goes Purple to bring Hoffman here. To learn more about Hoffman, visit www.tonyhoffmanspeaking.com.
This is the second year for Kent Goes Purple, a campaign to stand against illicit drugs. Throughout the month of September, office buildings, businesses and private residences are lit up in purple and folks are wearing purple T-shirts and wristbands.
Purple is the official color representing overdose awareness. September is observed as National Recovery Month.