Confronting your story is one thing. Being strong enough to share it with a few hundred people is another. That is exactly what Palmer Layton did as a 2023 Ready to Work Graduate speaker.
Layton had a great childhood in New York that fostered his love for skateboarding and racing motocross. At 19 years old, he suffered a horrific motocross accident. A misstep caused him to abandon his bike from 35 feet in the air, landing him knees-first into the ground, followed by his bike that compressed him and caused his femur to snap to the point that his foot was touching the side of his head.
When his racing career came to a halt, his opioid dependency began. He followed this path for nearly 11 years.
At 21 he moved from the comforts of New York to Colorado to live with his sister and dad. When the pressure of the transition took hold, a new addiction to heroin started.
“After about a year, things started to crumble beneath me and that is when my addiction really started to take hold,” Layton said.
During this time, his relationship with his sister also began to spiral. The siblings then suffered the loss of both parents, six months apart from each other. When his father died from colon cancer in January Palmer quit his job and began using drugs heavily. Two days after Mother’s Day he got a call from his sister notifying him that his mother succumbed to alcohol.
Another reason to self medicate, a sibling relationship hanging on by a thread, in and out of jail, hoping each night he wouldn’t wake up; accepting when he did, he is grateful today that he is alive.
His final warrant arrest on his 30th birthday ended up being the best gift of all. His sister asked the district attorney for a bond that would be hard to pay. She felt that he needed to sit, get clean, stop numbing himself, and become an adult. A letter from his sister telling him about Bridge House was the beginning of his path to a better, future self.
Bridge House’s one-month Ready to Work (RTW) intern program turned into four cleaning bathrooms while he waited for his documentation. A co-worker accompanied him to the clinic across the street for a Vivitrol treatment that Palmer previously shied away from. He was soon promoted to trainee and was put on payroll, eventually becoming a crew lead. He took every class RTW had to offer and was able to remain clean of drugs during his entire time as a trainee. Those he met along the way are now his best friends and many graduated alongside him.
After graduation he was nervous about another life transition – moving out of the Ready to Work house and entering employment in the outside world. So he kept one foot in and is currently employed as a Ready to Work Outdoor Supervisor.
He has a great job, a great girlfriend and a great relationship with his sister. The accident that ended his racing career didn’t end his love of the sport and Palmer has resumed riding BMX and skateboarding. Palmer has a lot to be proud of and is well on his way to becoming the man he always wanted to be.