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By Jim Cornelius
News Editor 

Speaker to address drugs, mental health


Last updated 10/4/2022 at Noon

When Cary Kiefer was in high school, she heard a speaker address the perils of substance abuse in a way that was so compelling she remembers it to this day.

“That had a big impact on me,” the Sisters woman said.

With family in Sisters schools, she wanted that impact to affect them and their peers, so she spearheaded bringing one of the nation’s most renowned public speakers on the subjects of mental health and substance abuse to Sisters.

Tony Hoffman will offer two presentations on Monday, October 10 at Sisters High School — one for students at 11:40 a.m., and another for all members of the community at 7 p.m.

Hoffman’s journey took him from serious opioid addiction though homelessness and prison to recovery and the Rio Olympics and a career inspiring others.

Kiefer told The Nugget that she found Hoffman in an online search and reached out.

“He actually called me back within about 20 minutes, she said. “After talking to him, I knew that I liked him.”

After viewing his TED Talks online, she knew he was the right person to bring to Sisters. She wants students and community members “to hear a true story from someone who’s been there,” she said.

And Hoffman has been there.

As his website noted: “During his senior year at Clovis High School he was featured on the cover of BMXer Magazine, and was sponsored by Fox Racing, Spy Sunglasses, and Airwalk Shoes. On the surface, Tony’s path seemed destined for stardom. However, in reality, Tony experienced crippling anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideations. Tony’s substance use began during his senior year, leading to the deterioration of his mental health, and opioid addiction soon followed. Due to his misuse of Oxycontin and other drugs, a life of addiction, crime, homelessness, and incarceration became his reality.

“Since paroling prison, Tony has tirelessly worked towards achieving his goals and the dreams he’d set out for while incarcerated. He raced BMX professionally for several years and continued on to coach Brooke Crain to a fourth-place finish at the Rio Olympic Games, accomplishing his dream of going to the Olympics. The Freewheel Project was very successful for many years, helping thousands of youth through action sports before moving on to pursuing a very demanding national speaking career. Today Tony is an author, an owner of pH Wellness drug and alcohol treatment facility, and one of the world’s most requested mental health and substance use speakers.”

That high profile put some pressure on Kiefer, who had to fundraise to bring him to Sisters. Local businesses and civic organizations stepped up and made it happen.

Kiefer is hopeful that many members of the community will attend the evening presentation to better understand the challenges faced by youth today.

“I just think that there are so many things that people aren’t aware of,” she said. “I just want people to be more aware.”

To learn more about Hoffman, visit

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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