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  • Writer's pictureSweta Patel

How a Broken Man Struggles Through Addiction and Steps Towards His Dreams

Rory speaks. Sweta writes. How one addict's story raises questions for reflection for any one of us.

Rory talks about the book's cover.


When the designer presented this cover to Rory and me, we knew it was The One.

It offers the portrait of a lonely man standing at the center of a run-down laundromat under flickering lights, hunched over. But it's not the end of his story. With the sun coming up, it's a new day out there full of possibility.

For so long, Rory wandered the streets of Rochester, Minnesota on cold nights, just looking for a place to rest for a moment. He didn't know what he wanted, but he knew it wasn't this.

When he was curled up and sobbing on a jail floor, ready to end it all, he had a vision of what could be: a loving relationship, living inside a home he could call his own, with financial means to see the world.

He now had something to move towards. For Rory, his desire for a different, more stable life, was his source of hope. He wanted it like he craved air to breathe or water to drink. And even more than crack cocaine.

Nearly a decade later, Rory became the owner of that laundromat, transforming it into a million-dollar home-improvement business. He married Lilly, they honeymooned along the beaches of Puerto Rico, and bought a home together.


For All of Us: What are you doing now that's holding you back from a dream? What would going after that dream with urgency look like, as if it were air or water?

For Teachers: How can we help our students to see possibilities for themselves?

At the Rochester Alternative Learning Center (Rochester, MN), we:

  • coordinate a Job Fair (with openings for ages 14+) and a Career Fair (with a range of options from entry-level to 2 year degrees and beyond) - both on-site

  • intentionally have one-on-one conversations with our seniors about future plans and match them up with job shadow opportunities

  • invite career speakers into subject area classes throughout the year

  • arrange tours to trade schools, unions, and colleges that students can sign up for where we provide the transportation

  • invite motivational speakers (like Rory) to share their journeys and how they found and moved towards the life they wanted

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