'Rehab gave me a chance to step back.' - Stefan Richard

He went from losing everything in his own life, to motivating others.

Stefan Richard is 26 and a former professional wrestler from Sagkeeng First Nation, Man..

He's one of three keynote presenters appearing at the Vision Quest Conference and Trade Show in Winnipeg.

The event offers workshops and entertainment, all meant to promote Aboriginal business and economic development.

This is the first time they are having keynote speakers.

When he was 23 Richard was a professional wrestler. But the horrors of drug addiction changed everything for him.

"My big dream was to go to Japan as a professional wrestler," he recalled. "I got a call saying these people were interested. I was pretty far gone at that point. I was excited. The night before I took drugs and overdosed on the plane. I woke up in a hospital in Calgary."

But Richard says the final turning point for him was losing his job, his wife, and his home. 

"After about a week I called a friend and said I needed help," he said. "I had quit hundreds of times. My friend took me to meet with other addicts who were in recovery. Before, those meetings never stuck. But about a month later I went into rehab. Rehab gave me a chance to step back."

Richard says American basketball star Chris Herren also inspired him. 

"I watched a documentary about him called Unguarded. Chris Herren told his story and I identified with it," he recalled. "He had this lifestyle which included a lot of travelling. And he talked about his drug use, even used the same drugs I did. He lost friends, and family." 

This past January, the two met in Minneapolis, Minn.

"I told him that I was now doing what he does, speaking about my experience," Richard said. "I asked him for advice. His advice was 'Be honest'." 

And that's what Richard is doing. He's sharing his honesty with others. At detox and rehab centres, at schools. He's a student at the University of Manitoba. And he takes care of his son three days a week.

Hear Stefan Richard on Information Radio with Marcy Markusa at 7 a.m. on Wednesday May 14. He'll be speaking on Thursday afternoon at Vision Quest. Vision Quest takes place at the RBC Convention Centre until Friday.