Recovering addict plans 500-mile bike ride to fight addiction

Published: Jul. 26, 2017 at 10:47 PM EDT
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T.J. Hunter trains every day now on his bike.

"This is how confident we are," he said, riding backward on his handlebars. "This is how I plan on going all the way to D.C. Just like this."

Hunter and his mother plan to pedal

more than 500 miles from Monroe, Ohio, to Washington, D.C. They are going for the Fed Up! rally, calling on lawmakers to do more to end the opioid epidemic. They're also raising money to help fight addiction. "Support," Hunter said. "That's the biggest thing out there. Knowing somebody else cares about you as much as you do." Hunter knows well how important that support is. As recently as a month ago, Hunter says he was homeless, living out of a box in Hamilton, Ohio. Now he lives with his aunt, uncle and cousins in Lincoln County, a couple hundred miles removed from an environment that he says was not good for him. He is almost 30 days clean from a heroin addiction that nearly killed him. "There was one week I overdosed three times," Hunter told WKYT's Garrett Wymer. "Dropped dead. I gave them a fake name. They basically told me, 'If you would have told us your real name, we wouldn't have brung you back to life.' And as I was leaving the hospital the last day, the doctor looked at me and was like, 'See you tomorrow.' And I was like, 'Oh wow.'" From then, Hunter says he has wanted - really wanted - to get clean. "I'm just tired of it. I'm tired of it. It's sickening to me," he said. "It's the worst thing out there right now. It's the devil. "When you pick it up, you don't know what you're getting yourself into at all." Hunter said he has been an addict since the age of 12. Now, at 20 and sober, he says he feels better than ever - and ready for a 500-mile journey with his mom. "My mom put a lot into trying to keep me clean," he said. "So we're going to put just as much as we put into that into this bike ride." Hunter says he wants his journey to recovery to show others there is hope. He also hopes to raise $10,000 to help others fight addiction. They're collecting donations online that he says will go to a rehab center that helped him.