A Hero Cycling For Recovery – The 100 Pedals’ Mission
Dave Cooke always saw himself as a typical dad, husband and business professional. When his son’s heroin addiction took hold of him and his entire family, he asked himself, “How can I be strong for my son when he is present and receptive, and even stronger for me when he is not?”
That’s when 100Pedals was born. Dave’s message is an inspiring one for anyone struggling with a difficult period in their life and we’ve had the privilege of interviewing him as he kicks off his 2017 Cycling for Recovery cross-country cycling trip!
Can you tell us a little bit about 100 Pedals, and what inspired you to start it?
Dave: Well, 100Pedals was kind of like an accidental discovery, but when I got to the point where I realized how broken my life had become as a result of my son’s heroine addiction, I realized that I needed to do something to change my life relative to the issue and the situation. So I made a commitment to ride my bike for an hour a day for 100 days in a row. And the experiences of the bike ride was not as much physical as it was these meditational experiences. I realized that I was looking at my son’s addiction from an entirely different point of view and it was very healthy for me and it was actually healthy for my son and his addiction. And so I just decided that I had to share this with others. That’s really how 100Pedals got started is that, being a parent who knows what it’s like to be in pain as your kid’s struggling with an addiction, and having this avenue for dealing with it in a healthy and constructive way, I just said, “I need to share this with other parents,” and that’s what I did.
If you wouldn’t mind, give us your elevator speech for 100Pedals, what it’s all about.
Dave: What is 100Pedals all about? It’s helping parents and other loved ones manage or navigate their lives around the chaos of a child’s addiction, of a loved one’s addiction. And what that means is just that: It’s that understanding what we control and what we don’t control and being comfortable with taking control of what we have control over and being comfortable and releasing to other sources that we don’t have control over.
Here at Heroes in Recovery, we think of you as a Hero for your ability to inspire hope in others – you give hope to others just by being you. Can you explain how you are a Hero impacted by addiction and mental health issues?
Dave: I just know what it’s like. I remember being to that point where I was curled up in the fetal position and feeling like a total failure as a dad, and totally broken as a man that there’s nothing that I could do to save my son. And so I know what it’s like to be in that place. And having gone on the bike rides and just discovering ways to feel good about myself and to have healthier responses to my son’s addiction, and the way that that changed my life, I realized that I’m not alone and I just said, “We need to teach parents. We need to teach other loved ones, family members who are going through this that there is hope. That there is a way to live a more constructive, healthier life despite the chaos that’s going around and, in fact, we need to because we can’t help those that need our help and love when we’re broken ourselves.”
That’s why I do this and that’s why it’s so important to continue to do it so that… The ups and downs of addiction and recovery, we’re going to experience them all but when we find something to hang on to that allows us to stay strong and stay focused, it’s a game changer for everybody.
What experiences would you like to share from Cycling for Recovery from last year
Dave: There were three things that I knew would happen. One, is that I knew I was going to have an incredible personal experience riding my bike everyday, just the journey in my mind and celebrating the ability to do that. That was a given. Number two is, I had talks and events scheduled across the country and I knew that those were gonna be mutually beneficial, exciting experiences and that would be mission accomplished. The third is the most important piece, is that I kind of in my back of my mind anticipated that I would run into people and have these opportunities to have informal interactions with them. What I didn’t realize was the number of interactions I had and how incredibly powerful they were. And that’s really the motivation behind this trip this year.
For example, having a mom see me on the news on a TV channel in St. Louis, the next day would look for me coming through her town, pull me over so she could talk to me about her son in recovery. Or a kid in Oklahoma sees the van and knows what it means and drive up to share his story of his frustration with getting past his 30-day sobriety. Those happened so many times and there were so many of those experiences that I just realized that people need to share their story, they’re looking for people that they can trust to share their story with to get it out in the open and know that they’re not alone and to find hope and opportunity in it. And that’s really what I experienced last year and that’s what I’m looking forward to this year.
So would you say that that experience in 2016 had a lot of impact on you and your planning for 2017?
Dave: It’s what drove it. It had less to do with the other two things, I don’t need to ride my bike across the country again, I don’t need to prove that. I know that I can give talks anytime and anywhere, but knowing how important it is to meet people where they are and to connect with them where they are is the most important component of this journey and that’s why we’re doing it.
To sort of dovetail off of what you just said, how would you say 100Pedals aligns with the Heroes in Recovery movement?
Dave: Well, everybody’s on a journey, and everybody has a story to tell. And I think that there’s education, there’s awareness, and there’s healing in sharing those stories. Whether someone is suffering with an addiction or they’re suffering with the addiction of a loved one, a lot of times they feel isolated, they feel alone, they feel detached. And when we have opportunities to share our stories and connect with others who have similar stories, what we’re doing is we’re allowing people two things: One, to realize that they’re not alone, and number two to find healing in the sharing of the stories so that people can can give you hope and they can give you encouragement, they can give you the love that you need while you’re going through what you’re going through.
So what can people do to help you on your journey? What would you like to say to anyone who’s interested in helping?
Dave: There are many different ways to support 100Pedals. A lot of the obvious is always a financial one, but there’s more. I need people to drive. There are gaps where I don’t have support drivers for the van that I have. If people could open up their homes to let me spend the night rather than staying in a hotel or sleeping in the van that would be amazing. So, the best way people can help is to drop me an email and say, “I live in this town, what do you need from me?” We could talk about what they’re willing or able to do.
I probably already said it, but I think that the most important thing for parents and loved ones, other family members to remember is, no matter where you are, there is hope. And the hope isn’t necessarily that the person you love the dearest is going to find recovery, but the hope is that you will get through this. And that there’s a community there that will support you to do that.
100Pedals brings activism, education and awareness to the issue of addiction in our communities. By encouraging other families to share their stories, 100Pedals has succeeded in bringing education to communities while building a stronger, more unified movement of change in how others view and respond to the issue of drug and alcohol addiction.