Into the Light: Trevor ‘Apple’ Mekelburg

Trevor ‘”Apple” Mekelburg (Photo by John F. Russell)

When Trevor “Apple” Mekelburg got sober four years ago at the age of 22, he was scared. None of his friends had stopped drinking, and he was living in Steamboat Springs, a party town.

“When you live where people vacation, you often start living like you’re on vacation, which is not a healthy way to live,” Apple said.

And with his parents and sister in recovery, Apple’s family history made him susceptible to addiction.

“My family has just an awesome cocktail of mental health and substance abuse issues, which can be great counterparts for chaos,” Apple said.

For a while, Apple said he danced with the “snake” in the room, and that snake was substance abuse.

“I thought I can just go in there and dance with it,” Apple said. “And the more I know about the snake, well, that’s just an advantage to me, because I’ll just be extra careful.

“But what I came to realize was the snake was already in me, and I needed to choose whether or not to give in to its venom.”

Apple remembers his final night of drinking — a wild night when he drove home drunk and woke up knowing he had to make a change.

“I remember thinking if I don’t stop, I will be stopped,” he said. “Whether it’s the law or dying, it’s going to come to an end, and I’d really like to be the one that chooses how it ends.”

That next day he rode around town on his bike, like Paul Revere, he said, doing wheelies and telling everyone he knew he was going to quit drinking.

“It was all about accountability, and for me, accountability is important, because I don’t like letting people down,” said Apple, who has been sober ever since.

Apple, who grew up in Fort Collins and moved to Steamboat to snowboard after his high school graduation, found his life’s calling in Steamboat.

“It is to work with youth and provide safe and sober stuff for kids to do in this town,” Apple said.

He first started working at Sk8 Church and then became head coach for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s boardriderz and skateboard programs. He is also co-founder of Go Skate Steamboat, a skateboarding program that is only a year old. This week, he and his wife, Amber, are moving to Fort Collins, where she will finish college, and he will work for the overnight skateboarding camp, Camp Good Buddy.

Apple said he’ll return to Steamboat monthly to help with skateboarding events, and long-term, he and Amber plan to move back to the area when they have kids.

When reflecting on his sobriety, Apple said his faith and connection to others are key.

“If you’re going to let go of a substance, you need something else to grab on to,” Apple said. “I’ve seen people in recovery grab onto all sorts of stuff — whether that be God or physical activity or music. You just need to find a community of like-minded people.”

He also thinks people need to change the way they talk about addiction.

“We’re never going to sell sobriety by talking about how bad drugs and alcohol are. We need to sell sobriety on how freaking righteous and kick ass being sober is,” he said. “When I show kids in this town that we throw bigger parties than anybody, that’s what’s cool.”

And though Apple felt fear when he first got sober, he is no longer afraid and boldly shares his story.

“I think we’re on this cusp, at least our generation, where it’s becoming not so taboo to talk about mental health,” said the 26-year-old. “We talk about our physical health, especially in an active town, about preventative measures, recovery methods, how to maintain a healthy body, and how is our mind any different?

“I totally get why it’s scary to talk about it — you feel like you’re alone. And I believe that there is an evil force at work to make people believe that they’re alone, but we need to talk about it. Where the light is, the dark cannot be. So basically, I just try to shine a light everywhere I can.”

Editor’s note: Go Skate Steamboat will be hosting a fundraiser in partnership with Back Door Grill on July 1. From open to close, Back Door Grill will donate 50 cents of every dollar spent to provide scholarships to local skateboarders to attend Good Buddy Camp.

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