Curt Eichelberger started Skate Straight for those struggling with addiction who needed a place to fit in
DALLAS – When Curt Eichelberger saw a skate magazine in eighth grade, he saw himself.
“It was like, this is what I want [sic] do, âhe said.
So he took a board and started dreaming about all the ways that skateboarding was going to change his life.
âI wanted to get paid for it, I wanted it to be my job, I wanted it to be all I did,â he said.
It meant doing everything. Cocaine, meth and heroin. There was almost nothing that Eichelberger wouldn’t try.
âPartying has become more of my interest than skateboarding,â he said.
Eventually he quit using drugs, but by the age of 20 Eichelberger was already an alcoholic.
âI was lying to my wife, my family, all my friends,â Eichelberger said. “No one even knew I had a drinking problem.”
It is a secret that he has kept for more than 25 years. Eventually, however, his wife found out and encouraged him to seek help.
“I was literally, they said, months from death,” he said.
After coming out of treatment, he joined a support group, but every time he went he felt like he was not fitting in.
So he stopped going and took a different path, resuming one of his old ways.
Skateboarding had put Eichelberger in this mess, and now he was going to get more out of it.
Last year he started his own support group for struggling skateboarders.
It’s called “Skate Straight”.
At first he thought no one would show up, but soon after, people came from all over. A chapter of Skate Straight recently opened in England and he hopes to start more across the United States.
The group originally intended for skateboarders now includes chefs, business owners and all kinds of people on the road to recovery.
âThat’s basically what I would say, it’s the misfits recovery table,â Eichelberger said.
Eric Wilson joined the group shortly after Eichelberger launched them. Wilson said he couldn’t go a day without alcohol and looked everywhere for help, before finally finding a group he could relate to.
âRecovery is like skateboarding,â Wilson said. “You’re not going to go out on day one and just be excellent and learn how to do it.”
âThe point is, you got up, dusted yourself off and walked away,â Eichelberger said. “And you get up and start over.”
Of course, they are talking about more than skating, which is why they offer more than skating.
Eichelberger, who has been sober for two years now, says he will bend over backwards to offer a way out because he saw the alternative.
He saw too many people who felt so hopeless that they thought their best life was death.
“I always say it’s like I’m recovering loudly, so others don’t have to die quietly,” Eichelberger said.
He encourages others to do the same, to share their stories and to end the vicious cycle of addiction.
âIt was the best feeling in the world, I felt like the elephant had just jumped out of my chest when I was able to take it out,â Wilson said.
Thanks to Skate Straight, Wilson has been sober for 18 months, but he’s not the only one who has been profoundly changed.
âThe recovery has given me everything that alcohol and drugs promised me,â Eichelberger said. âIf I can get out, what I’ve learned is that ‘A’ helping ‘B’ always helps ‘A’ first. So helping these other people helps me.
As a child, Eichelberger believed that skateboarding would change his life.
As an adult, he now knows he was right.
âSomeone asked me that not too long ago, they said, ‘What have you done skateboarding before? “And I said, ‘nothing so far,'” Eichelberger said.
âThis is the time for me to give back. I took it for 30 years and this was the first time I thought, âOh, this is what I was supposed to do. It took me this long to figure out.
Eichelberger may never compete professionally, but he’s already one of the greats in skateboarding.
For more information on Skate Straight, visit skatestraightrecovery.org or 4dwnproject.org.