POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- A Dutchess County group whose mission is raising awareness about the disastrous impacts of drug and alcohol addiction took the skies last week to spread their message.
Ten members of the RAP Session group braved their first "Jump for Recovery" -- landing on a farm across the Hudson River from Poughkeepsie -- with absolutely no regrets afterward. RAP stands for Reach All Potentials Sunday's "RAPtivity" highlighted another stimulating activity that isn't addictive or deadly.
Before younger colleagues on the jump, the group's founder, Anthony Eack of Hopewell Junction joked he might have to wear a diaper to pull off a feat he'd been contemplating since he turned 50 in 2013.
"i'm definitely bringing a change of clothes,'' said Eack, who goes by the nickname "Tony Gatz" among friends in recovery.
"My mission, my reason for jumping, is to lead by example," Eack said. Even though I am petrified of flying in general and have not been on a plane since my honeymoon 32 years ago, I am willing to make a jump for recovery."
"These kids asked me to make a jump with them, so I will. I'd do anything for them. You can say I'm willing to take recovery to new heights, starting at 13,500 feet," Eack added.
The group took off from a small airfield in Gardiner, N.Y., on a flight booked with Skydive the Ranch.
Everyone landed safely, calling the adventure one of the most exhilarating experiences of their lives. And, they accomplished the jump without being under the influence of any drugs and alcohol, of course.
Through each of these efforts, Eack said he aims to raise awareness about the exploding epidemic of heroin and opiate painkillers in the Hudson Valley region.
Eack previously helped start weekly "RAP" sessions in January in other parts of Dutchess County.
Last month, the opiate recovery group sponsored its first RAP session for youths between the ages of 11 and 16. That meeting in Fishkill focused on prevention and all addictions including cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana.
Eack, who with his family created a non-profit called “Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life Foundation applies his own life experiences toward chipping away at the widening drug crisis.
Eack helped organize other events in Dutchess County, including a December 2015 rally in Poughkeepsie, as reported here by Daily Voice. He also started heroin/opiate recovery meetings that are ongoing in Wappingers Falls, Hyde Park and Fishkill.
Eack, a certified recovery coach, said he has been in long-term recovery from alcoholism. and used the fellowship of Alcohol Anonymous as his foundation of recovery.
"I have sponsored many people of all ages in the 12-steps recovery process," Eack told Daily Voice in an earlier interview.
Return to Daily Voice for video clips form Sunday's "Jump for Recovery."See Attachment