A nonprofit in Beebe is using mixed martial arts to fight drug and alcohol abuse, depression and anxiety.
William Waller of Searcy spoke to the Beebe City Council recently regarding the intervention/therapy he created called Fight For Life.
“We give them tools so they can thrive throughout their life,” he said.
Currently, Waller said his program for White and Lonoke counties is operating as a 501(c)(3) and the goal is to become accredited so that it will open up Medicaid and health insurance options.
“Once we get through that process we will have a lot more opportunities,” he said.
Waller said the reason why he was at the council meeting was because he needed to get the word out to the community. “This is a martial arts mixed discipline program that uses tai chi, yoga, jiu jitsu, meditation and exercise and life skill development.”
He also brought up a 2020 city ordinance that prohibits placing “off-site” signs at other businesses in Beebe, The ordinance defines off-site signs as those outdoors “advertising or providing information for an establishment, merchandise, service, activity or entertainment, which is not sold, produced, manufactured, offered or furnished at the property on which said sign is located.”
Waller said he “can’t build a program that does community outreach without stakeholder buy-in and behind a broken law.”
He said he was told by code enforcement that he couldn’t place the organization’s yard signs at other businesses, and he wasn’t at the meeting to ask to change a rule or “anything like that.” He said he was hoping to find a way to promote his non-profit that was still lawful.
“That lawful moment would be that I would go to each business in the city of Beebe and ask them for support of my scholarship program for our enrollees, and in exchange for that support, I will provide a life skill class,” he said. “We teach life skills from general wellness, financial wellness, grounding and how to get through emotional landscapes that are unknown. They are very useful with people who have started with drugs and abuse.
“In exchange for that support, I would like to be able to place my sign in front of their business, that way the service is available at that business and the law says the sign has to represent the service that is available at the business.”
Waller, who is board-certified in public health, said, “I have sat by more hospital beds, sat in more prison cells and sat at more funerals because of drug abuse, addiction, suicide and other means of unpleasant deaths and the one thing that survivors, friends and family of the addict or suicide, it is always said, ‘If I knew it was that bad, I would have done something different.”
“We have people that are suffering and I am just a guy with a team of people who wants to help these folks in a way that they’ve probably been never been helped,” he said. “We are probably going to challenge them every day. We’re probably going to teach them skills they’ve never learned before and we’re probably going to make some of them mad, but our goal is to sharpen them as we’ve sharpened each other.”
Waller asked Mayor Mike Robertson and the council to send him their depressed, “send me your addicted, send me your toxic, send me the people that need healing. I’m ready to help.”
Robertson told Waller that the city’s legal department would review the ordinance for him and would get back with him.
“I don’t see why we could not ... if you would send a banner to the city, [Clerk-Treasurer] Carol [Westergren] can have it placed on our city website and you may send a banner to the city police department and they may put in on there. You may send one to the chamber [of commerce] and they may put it on there for you.”