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Getting Sober, Delivering Fun

Alum’s Initiative Focuses on Hobbies, Recreation to Encourage Recovery

By Carly Taylor ’19

Eugene Stiltner MBA ‘17

Photo courtesy of Sober and Stoked

Eugene Stiltner MBA ‘17, left, helped form Sober and Stoked to encourage those battling addiction to stay active through hobbies and outdoor activities. Robert Bradley, right, donated a new surfboard for a drive by the organization to collect and distribute gear to those in recovery.

Eugene Stiltner MBA ‘17 and Scott French met as 20-something bartenders in Ocean City. Partying was their priority, even though drinking had contributed to Stiltner's suspension from his undergraduate studies at Virginia Military Institute.

As the friends later struggled with alcoholism, they sought a way to stay on track in their recoveries, and found it by latching onto what they loved: snowboarding and skiing.

Today, through their organization Sober and Stoked, they encourage others battling addiction to stay active through hobbies and outdoor activities.

On Saturday, Stiltner and French filled a pickup truck with donated athletic equipment, art supplies and musical instruments for the addiction housing and treatment provider Hudson Health Services to distribute to transitional living homes across Maryland.

“These things helped save us early on to help us from falling back into potential traps and relapsing,” Stiltner said. “We took a lot in addiction, and this is our way to give back.”

Stiltner and French, who got sober about 13 years ago, started Sober and Stoked in 2017 in hopes of helping people discover their passion and purpose in sobriety. They started by telling their own stories, and produced a film, “6 Gifts,” that focuses on recovery in the context of outdoor activities.

Stiltner wanted to prove to himself and his peers that he could get his life on track professionally, and earning his MBA from the University of Maryland in 2017 was the way he demonstrated it.

“I knew it would universally benefit me no matter what I chose to do in life,” said Stiltner, a brand manager at Touch of Color Flooring in Harrisburg, Pa.

Patients in recovery who received equipment through Sober and Stoked wasted no time in breaking it in, said Kevin Meenan, clinical director at Hudson Health. At a group bonfire on a Maryland Eastern Shore beach, a few golf clubs and balls provided part of the evening’s entertainment.

“It definitely made a difference in their lives that day,” Meenan said.

Stiltner is trying to establish Sober and Stoked as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit over the summer so the organization can continue to expand programs like the gear drive that encourage participants’ pride in being sober.

“People didn’t view sobriety as fun,” Stiltner said. “I think that whole dynamic is finally shifting.”

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