Nova Scotia

Recovering Cape Breton addict Danny MacKillop has a new smile

Danny MacKillop, a recovering drug addict from Cape Breton whose life started to turn around when he returned $40 he found at an ATM, has another positive change in his life: a new smile.

Buoyed by MacKillop's recent sobriety, his childhood friends raised money for his dental work

Danny MacKillop smiles brightly with his new set of teeth. (Chris Steffler/Together We Can)

Danny MacKillop, a recovering drug addict from Cape Breton whose life started to turn around when he returned $40 he found at an ATM, has another positive change in his life: a new smile. 

McKillop, who has been free of heroin and alcohol for more than 70 days at a treatment centre in Vancouver, says his friends raised money to help finance his dental work.

Now he can't walk by a mirror without smiling.

"It's a great feeling," said MacKillop. "You can actually look the world in the eyes again and smile and not have to hide my teeth."

Back in November MacKillop returned money he found to a police officer — triggering a cascade of life-changing events

"I came in in a bad way, teeth knocked out from fighting in the past," said MacKillop. "So a bunch of people contributed to help me get a new smile."

Buoyed by MacKillop's commitment to get clean, his childhood friends raised money to finance his dental work.

"It's just a loyal thing, we grew up together, helped each other out along the way," said friend Todd MacDougall.

'I looked up to Danny'

Although they haven't seen each other in 10 years, MacDougall said he was keen to help his old friend in any way he could — and fundraising for a new set of teeth made sense.

"I looked up to Danny as a kid," said MacDougall. "So, the least I could do is just give back a little bit to help a good friend out."

MacDougall emphasized it wasn't just him: "Everybody that helped share it and donate it from $20 to $200, it all helped." In all, the dental work cost about $5,000.

MacKillop said he lost a lot of his teeth through fighting, drug use and not taking care of himself while living on the streets. 

Danny MacKillop, centre, with his friend and sponsor Daniel MacEachern, left, and friend Landon Dorval, right. (Chris Steffler/Together We Can)

"When I grew up in Cape Breton I was a black-out drunk and I was pretty violent when I drank," said MacKillop. "There was a lot of nights that I don't remember waking up and black eyes and blood on my hands and it's a terrible feeling."

MacKillop said he's amazed at the financial help from his friends, because of how he acted amidst his addictions.

"I was the one that was in the wrong all the time, being inconsiderate, being a black-out drunk," said MacKillop. "I turned my back on everybody, when really, I thought it was the other way around."

To MacDougall, the "real" Danny has returned. 

"It wasn't Danny; I know Danny, he has a big heart and I know he wouldn't do that, the things that he did, if he wasn't on the drugs," said MacDougall. "You have to look past those things, as we're all human."

'Real' Danny is back

For MacDougall, he's thrilled to see his friend doing so well. 

"To see Danny smile like that again ... it's just incredible.

MacKillop said he continues to take it one day at a time. With each day of sobriety he's gaining privileges at the centre,  including his own phone and being allowed to leave during the day. 

"I'm just really grateful," MacKillop said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

From people around the corner to those around the world, Norma Jean MacPhee has more than a decade of experience telling their stories on the radio, TV and online. Reach Norma Jean at norma.jean.macphee@cbc.ca

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