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Former addict in NC runs Trail of Tears to raise awareness of drug epidemic

Kallup McCoy, a Cherokee man, says he is running more than 1,200 miles to Oklahoma to raise awareness and money for a recovery house, and to show addicts there's a better way of life through faith, diet and exercise. (WLOS)

CHEROKEE, N.C. (WLOS) - A Cherokee man and former drug addict is running all the way to Oklahoma to battle the drug and opioid epidemic on the reservation.

Kallup McCoy says he is running more than 1,200 miles to raise awareness and money for a recovery house, and to show addicts there is a better way of life through faith, diet and exercise.

“I have a moral and spiritual obligation to my fellow man to try to lift them up,” McCoy said.

He started a group called RezHope Recovery to help other addicts.

The route he's running pays respect to his ancestors’ painful journey along the Trail of Tears.

“We're in a modern-day Trail of Tears. I've lost so many people close to me ... friends and family, and I just want to try to change that," McCoy said. "We're changing the culture.”

McCoy said the run will take 40 days and 1,212 miles to complete. He said he will run an average of 34 miles a day, six days a week.

McCoy started his journey on Monday morning from Cherokee’s sacred Kituwah mound.

He said he wants this enormous run to hurt.

“Seek some suffering because that's the only place that you're going to grow,” he explained.

McCoy will sleep outside and so will his mother Ruth McCoy, who will be driving along with supplies. McCoy's mother says she endured a lot of pain in the worst of her son's addiction.

“Was he eating? Was he sleeping? Was he OK?” she would ask herself.

She says it feels awesome to have her son clean over a year now.

“From where he was to where he is today, I'll sleep on the ground with him any day,” she said.

McCoy has support from the Cherokee, including from Principal Chief Richard Sneed.

“I think everything Kallup is doing is going to bring awareness,” Sneed said.

It is a big run designed to help heal a wound in the community, within a family, and society at large -- a community in step with McCoy every step of the way.

“We all got to lock arms, put aside our differences, unite, and walk alongside each other,” he said.

McCoy ran to Almond, North Carolina, on Monday.

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