Athlete and drug counselor sends a message of hope over Skype

With the right people in your corner, there’s no telling what you can accomplish. That’s just part of the message Todd Crandell has for anyone struggling with addiction today. The rest is as simple as it is life-changing: “You are of value and worth saving.” It’s this core belief that drives Todd to do what he does: help others—others like him.

Todd running in the Ironman World Championship 2012 in Hawaii.

As a former drug user, Todd has reached and inspired people in a tremendous way, turning even his negative life experiences into an inspirational narrative about what a determined person can overcome. Believing in the inner strength of everyone once they truly know they’re worth saving—and drawing on his own incredible story—Todd decided to found what would become one of the best-known recovery programs in the world.

That program is Racing for Recovery. In the program, a person can take an honest look at every aspect of their life—emotional, spiritual, nutritional, social, physical—and get help forming a concrete plan to create a healthier, more balanced lifestyle. “We truly believe in our motto that with sobriety anything is possible,” Todd says. And with Skype as part of his program’s toolkit, “anything” includes reaching out to people the world over who may just need to hear a story like Todd Crandell’s.

The success of Racing for Recovery

Since starting Racing for Recovery, Todd has seen drastic life changes and success stories that quite simply blow him away. For instance, a mother of three who overdosed four times, was in a coma for 27 days, and even served jail time has now been clean for more than 14 months. “She’s even facilitating some of our support group meetings,” he says. “Today, she is employed and happily engaged.”

There’s also the story of a young man involved in a drug deal gone bad, who suffered a knife wound and was taken to ER. He was in such serious condition he was not expected to survive. But he did, and while still in the hospital he got in touch with Racing for Recovery—now he volunteers with them. “He has such a great attitude towards life,” Todd says. “He’s not shy about showing his wound and telling his story. He hasn’t missed a day at Racing for Recovery since he got out of the hospital.”

Still from the documentary “Running with Demons.”

Not being shy about wounds—physical or emotional—is another part of Racing for Recovery’s success. It’s essentially how Todd’s journey began. “I was motivated because a local newspaper ran a story about my life after I ran Ironman New Zealand, and the response from that article was so overwhelming that I realized I could do something with my life experiences—both good and bad—that could help people.”

With an inspiring story of self-destructive habits overcome, along with his increasing notoriety as a world-class athlete, Todd began doing speaking engagements and interviews. He became ever more comfortable sharing his story of personal triumph over addiction. And he continued to use success in Ironman and Ultraman competitions to shine a light on his narrative and demonstrate just what a motivated human being can accomplish.

Doing more for those who need more

Despite the ever-expanding spotlight, Todd wanted to do more than speak and race—he wanted to guide people like him along their journeys toward recovery. “People don’t find the counseling profession—the counseling profession finds them,” he says. It found him. “I started Racing for Recovery in 2001, and in 2006 I returned to school to pursue a master’s degree and begin the licensure procedure. It took me 10 years to become a licensed professional clinical counselor by the state of Ohio. It took a lot of effort, perseverance, commitment, dedication, and support from family and friends.”

With his degree, license, and Racing for Recovery, he’s continuing to bring others along on his journey, counsel them on theirs, and pay his success forward in a big way. He also incorporates Skype into his methodology to reach people he normally wouldn’t be able to reach and make his impact even greater.

Skype video calls have become an integral tool to get in touch and stay in touch with recovering addicts and users. “I am able to reach people that I wouldn’t necessarily reach without Skype,” Todd notes. One man in France, for example, now uses athletics and accountability—like Todd did—to cope with his cravings and channel his addictive energies. “We used Skype since this was the best way to communicate internationally. He’s thankful to have someone therapeutically who can not only relate to his needs and circumstances but can also offer positive alternatives.”

Todd understands just how much his extended reach benefits from an indispensable communications tool. As he puts it, “This client, and other clients I counsel around the U.S. and the world, would not be possible without Skype.”

Todd suiting up at sunset for Ironman South Africa.

Addiction is an issue that’s not going away anytime soon. Because there are still so many more people to reach, Todd recognizes the work he’s doing is vital. To anyone struggling with dependency right now, his simple message is worth hearing again: “You are of value and worth saving.”

We love hearing how you use Skype to make a positive impact on the world around you. To share your story, just tag us @Skype on social media, and we might feature you.

Images courtesy of Todd Crandell and Racing for Recovery.