The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians was well-represented
at the Emerald Isle race was held on Saturday, March 10 and
included a marathon, half-marathon, and 5K races. Shown (left-right)
are Kallup McCoy III, Ashton Brady, Kallup McCoy III,
Katelynn Ledford, Michell Gayosso, and Native Walkingstick.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians was well-represented at
a recent running event on the coast. The Emerald Isle race was held
on Saturday, March 10 and included a marathon, half-marathon, and
Kallup McCoy II participated in the marathon portion of the
event, and his girlfriend, Katelynn Ledford, ran the 5K event along
with four other Cherokee youth including: Native Walkingstick, Kallup
McCoy III, Ashton Brady, and Michell Gayosso.
McCoy II and Ledford are both very active in the Cherokee recovery
community and work to create positive experiences and chances to
share their message of hope through their RezHOPE Recovery and Consulting
"The message that we're trying to share is to get active and
stay healthy," said McCoy II. "And, being able to talk to the youth
and share with them about choices was a huge blessing."
McCoy II placed 13th in the Male 30-39 division with a time
of 5:20.24. Afterwards, he was happy with his performance. "My nutrition
was good, and it was a nice race. I just always want to represent
our Tribe strongly."
Ledford, new to races, placed 14th in the Female 20-29 division.
"It was the first time I'd ever done anything like that."
She was unsure if running would be for her, but positive thinking
"I was in a really bad car wreck that stemmed from my substance
use, and I broke my back and my hip and had a metal rod placed in
my leg," said Ledford. "For a long time, I said, 'I can't run. There's
no way I can do that.' But, Kallup kept buzzing in my ear to try
it. I think a lot of times we get it stuck in our head the insecurity
of not being able to do something."
She added, "Finally, I started running a little bit here and
there and it came gradually. I just pushed myself."
Of the race itself, Ledford said, "It was fun, and I ran with
The boys finished well in the race with each placing in the
Male 14+under division as follows: Walkingstick, 13th place, 28:57;
Gayosso, 19th place, 36:32; Brady, 20th place, 36:32; and McCoy
III, 23rd place, 40:41.
McCoy II commented, "We got a chance to talk with them about
what they want to do goals and choices. That's what it's
Ledford said they all traveled to the race together and stopped
at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill on the way.
"When we were on the campus, one of the boys said, 'I want to go
to school here!' So, it's really cool to be able to take them with
us and them to experience those things and get an idea of what they
might want to do."
She said recovery has opened many doors, "If we were still out
there using drugs, they might not have been able to experience that."
Their RezHOPE Recovery and Consulting group, which is currently
under the umbrella of the Christ Fellowship Church until they receive
their official 501c3 status, recently held a logo contest. Buffalo
Town, a graphic design company, won the contest and deferred their
prize due to the importance of the RezHOPE organization.
In a statement, Buffalo Town wrote, "We support any cause that
aims at improving not only individual health but the community as
a whole. Working with the Center for Community Health at Kansas
University, we are always trying to support any initiative like
yours. 'Why treat people's illnesses without treating what made
them sick in the first place?' That's a quote that I see all the
time in my place of work, and it is definitely true. If the environment
is toxic, of course, the outcome isn't going to be pretty. Keep
up the fight."
McCoy II is all about pushing himself, and now he is ready to
double his mileage for his next race the Badwater Cape Fear,
a 51-mile race on Bald Head Island on Saturday, March 17. That race
begins with 12 miles on the roads on the Island followed by 39 miles
on the beach.
The first of May, McCoy II is going to run the Benge Route of
the Trail of Tears, a 1,300 mile run ending in Tahlequah, Okla.
The last 111 miles will be tackled within a 24-hour period in the
hopes of qualifying for the Badwater 135, the world's toughest foot
"I'm just pushing the limits, trying to callous my mind and
getting ready for this run to Oklahoma," he said. "I know if I can
make it through a 51-miler, then I am sure I can make it through
whatever that run throws at me."
On these long runs, McCoy II thinks about many things
past, present and future. "I think about things I want to do out
in the community and the people that we've lost and that just inspires
me to go harder. But, towards the end of the races, my insecurities
start coming out."
When those thoughts creep in, he pushes them away. "I deal with
it the same way when I hear the naysayers now, and I pray and just
ask God to give me strength. There's really no secret to it, just
keep praying and keep pushing."
He ran the race at Emerald Isle not too long after an ankle
injury. "I've had people tell me that I needed to rest for two weeks,
but if we wait for things to be perfect, then things never get done.
You just have to push through. If you want something, go get it.
There are so many opportunities to be the change that we want to
McCoy II and Ledford are busy with helping to spread their message,
and he is set to speak at a Medicine Abuse Project event, sponsored
by The Coalition for a Safe & Drug-Free Swain County, scheduled
for Tuesday, March 20 from 7 8:15pm at the United Methodist
Church in Bryson City.
"Instead of talking about the problem, be a part of the solution."