Doc Spartan: Fighting the Opioid Epidemic at Ground Zero

Doc Spartan healing the opioid crisis in ohioYou may have seen Doc Spartan natural skincare products and ointments on ABC’s Shark Tank in 2016, but the veteran owned company is much more than its physical products.

After graduating from college, CEO Dale King joined the military, eventually finding himself in Iraq serving as an intelligence officer to a Special Forces unit. The Special Forces unit had a primary job of training and fighting alongside the Iraqi Army against the terrorists.

“The end goal is to build a capable and confident fighting force in order to create a safe, stable, and peaceful country – ultimately instilling a sense of belief,” said King.

While terrorists used fear as their main weapon against the Iraqi people, the only way to beat them was to empower confidence and capability.

“I had seen the impacts that evil can bring to a population,” he said. “But the main lesson I learned is what a tribe of good people can do to fight that evil and the hope it can bring to people.”

When King’s deployment was over, he headed home to Portsmouth, Ohio, where another struggle was taking place – the opioid epidemic. Once a booming industrial city in the 20th century, it had become a shell of its former self. The buildings that used to hold successful manufacturing lines were being used as “Pill Mills” for opioids. Portsmouth had become the epicenter of the opioid crisis with 12 pill mills operating at one time.

“My hometown became ground zero for the worst public health epidemic in our country’s history,” he said. “During my time away, the Drug Enforcement Agency named Portsmouth one of the worst places for prescription drug abuse and the county led the state in overdose death rates.”

The people of Portsmouth, Ohio seemed to be left hopeless with politicians’ empty promises of solving the opioid crisis. Dale remembered the Special Forces unit in Iraq and how they worked with the locals to instill a sense of hope – that became his mission in Portsmouth.

Alongside fitness instructors, rehab counselors, and businesspeople, Dale began an effort to turn the city around. They built a Crossfit studio in an old garage to go hand-in-hand with a rehab facility. The Crossfit would play a huge part in the patients’ recovery. Opening that gym created a domino effect of hope for the people of Portsmouth and for Dale.

Not long after, he created a non-profit called Team Some Assembly Required. Team SAR is comprised of adaptive athletes (men and women who are missing arms/legs who still compete in fitness based competitions). Dale and his Army friend Derick Carver started this group of adaptive athletes as a way to broadcast a message of motivation and belief across America.

Derick Carver lost his leg in Afghanistan, leaving him questioning his identity. Through years of rehab, surgeries, blood transfusions – he found himself again and became the World’s Strongest Adaptive Athlete.

“In a town devastated by weakness and pain we needed to train and equip people with strength to fight that weakness. We needed to get them to believe in themselves first on a micro level so they could believe they could make a difference in the community on a macro level.”

Doc spartanAfter a few years running the nonprofit, Dale noticed the rashes and blisters the athletes would get when their prosthetics rubbed against their limbs. Dale and Renee, a member of his gym, then came up with a first-aid ointment for the members of the gym. It worked so well that they became 50/50 partners in 2015.

Today, their company, Doc Spartan, continues to operate out of Portsmouth. The line has expanded to include deodorants, skincare, soaps, and other products. Their goal continues to be to lift up the people of Portsmouth and heal the city. The economy is slowly recovering as new shops pop up in downtown and abandoned houses that were once drug dens are now destroyed, making room for greenery.

But for Dale and his team, the work is far from over.

“Now more than ever we all need to find a way to believe – to believe that the greatest of challenges lead to the greatest of opportunities.”

To learn more about Doc Spartan, click here.

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