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Knocking out addiction one punch at a time

Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 5:12 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 4, 2021 at 7:23 AM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Kicking addiction to the curb is not an easy task but one resident at Hope Gospel Mission has found a way that makes it easier. “Be energetic, hit something if they need to let out sadness or pain,” said Luke Smith, the owner of Karate American in Eau Claire.

Hope Gospel Mission helped lead Cliff Strand down the path of recovery, but his time at an area karate studio really brought home his sobriety. One man’s recovery journey has turned into hope for the future. “It’s just something that I can’t replace, I can never replace that in my life,” said Cliff Strand, a resident at Hope Gospel Mission.

Cliff has spent the last 15 months at Hope Gospel Mission working to overcome an alcohol addiction. “It had taken everything from me, family, jobs, homes, investments and it was time to change my life,” Cliff said. On his way to healing, he started kicking, punching, and punching a few more times. “It not only physically gives you an outlet but mentally it strengthens you,” Cliff added.

For the last 8 months cliff has been training at Karate American in Eau Claire. “Cliff just took off, it was amazing, he’s an incredible guy,” Smith said. Cliff knew he was not alone and others at Hope Gospel Mission could benefit this outlet.

“It’s just a place for them to exhale to just let their hair down and be themselves and learn something new, learn a new skill,” said Mike Moszer, the head kickboxing instructor at Karate American.

Hope Gospel and Karate American formed a partnership to teach cardio kickboxing to their residents. “It helps people become more empowered, helps them take a look at themselves in a different way,” said Becky Schalinske, a renewal counselor at Hope Gospel Mission.

The guy in the gloves is kicking his way to sobriety by encouraging others to join in. “To physically get back in to shape and to do the things I used to do, obviously I am not a kid anymore but to get back in and start kicking and punching and working with others and showing them the way,” Cliff said.

Cliff graduated from the Hope Gospel program last week and is excited to continue practicing and teaching martial arts in the future. But he leaves behind a legacy at Karate American that will help others at Hope Gospel Mission knock out their addiction.

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