Eastern Heights Baptist Church is hosting a Celebrate Recovery event Saturday at 7 p.m. The event is free, but those planning to attend are encouraged to register via the church’s website. Guest speaker Tony Hoffman is a former BMX Elite Pro. He will share his powerful life story that took him from addiction and homelessness in 2006 to Olympic Coach in 2016.
Sober since May 2007, Hoffman’s BMX career started in high school, as he was a top-rated BMX amateur with multiple endorsements. Hoffman stopped racing, however, in his senior year of high school when he was offered a high-paying tech job in San Diego, even before graduating high school.
Hoffman said, “A big part of high school is hanging out with friends. At that time, I suffered from self-esteem issues, despite being so gifted in athletics.
“Toward the end of my senior year, a lot of students began drinking and smoking weed. I didn’t want to be left out of the group, so I thought what I was going to do was try it one time – one time led to a horrific addiction.”
In 2004 Hoffman committed a home invasion armed robbery and was sent to prison for two years in 2007. “By the time I went to prison, I had lost everything. Friends, family and love for life in general.”
All that changed when Hoffman had a spiritual experience on January 21, 2007, that he says led him to his faith in Jesus Christ.
“I tell people, ‘I’m not supposed to be alive,’ and I mean that,” Hoffman said. “People don’t survive what I’ll share with everyone on Saturday evening. My life was spared for the work I do across the country to help prevent, bring hope and give guidance to those who hear the message I bring.”
As soon as he was released from prison, Hoffman used the positives and negatives of his life, and, as a changed man, began to live his life with purpose. Hoffman dedicated his life to bringing awareness around the country of the dangers of substance abuse.
Hoffman placed second at the 2016 World Championships in Medellin, Colombia in the Masters Pro class. He is a 2016 Rio Olympic Games coach and the founder and director of The Freewheel Project, a non-profit organization that mentors thousands of youth through action sports, like BMX, skateboarding and other after-school programs.
Hoffman offers suggestions to parents and teens to help avoid substance and alcohol abuse.
“Activities and mentors are a key role in keeping youth from experimenting with substances,” he said. “I have found that the ones who have a strong purpose of direction for their lives or are heavily involved in some kind of co-curricular activity are less likely to fall into the trap. I think parents need to be open and honest with their kids about the risks that are out there, as well. Acting like your kid will never see it is just not a good idea.”
The public is invited to Eastern Heights Baptist Church to hear Hoffman’s story. Go to www.ehbcstatesboro.org to register.