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From addict to inspiration: A Sheboygan man's journey that took him from prison to promoting positivity

"So I'm in recovery, I lost 100 pounds, and a little over two years ago I started living."
Posted at 5:28 PM, Mar 10, 2023

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — He wears rainbow laces, colorful socks, tye-die shirts, dyes part of his hair, and painted the word 'Positivity' on his fingernails. He is one of, if not, the most positive person in Sheboygan and Wisconsin.

Meet Koke Mailo-Podwils from Sheboygan.

"I’m the positivity ninja that inserts positivity everywhere," he said.

He goes around town with his positivity booth full of prizes and a spinning wheel that has challenges like: jump on one leg, spin around, and say we are all in this together or say three things you love about yourself, or high-five a stranger.

"Anywhere I see somebody needs positivity whether it's online or in person, I'm there. I'm either saying hi, good morning. I freestyle for people. I sing. It doesn’t matter. If I see someone doing badly on social media, I’m going to be like oh you're amazing, just something nice to bring them up," he said.

Koke Mailo-Podwils is a burst of energy and positivity. On 3/10, he brought his positivity booth to Biggby Coffee in Sheboygan. He gave away free prizes and challenged customers to do something positive like saying three things they love about themselves.

Mailo-Podwils is infectiously optimistic. He fills a room with his spirit.

He is in recovery. Mailo-Podwils was not always like this.

“Five years ago I stopped using opiates because it almost killed me, and I was still using all these other drugs," the drum and bass DJ said.

Even though he kicked one drug, while DJing at raves he was still using other drugs. Mailo-Podwils even went to prison for three years for possession with intent to deliver cocaine. It wasn’t until a trip to the doctor that everything changed for him.

Koke Mailo-Podwils
Two years ago, a doctor told Koke Mailo-Podwils that he needed to change his life around or he would die. Mailo-Podwils took those words seriously. He lost 100 pounds, quit drugs, and found a new calling. The picture on the left was taken when he was in the hospital.

“Koke I’m going to be honest with you. You’re 45 years old. You’re 345 pounds, pre-diabetic, high cholesterol, high blood pressure. I just found aneurysms in both your legs. Do you want to live? I said yes sir I do and I changed my life," he said.

From that moment, Mail-Podwils started living again. He’s two years sober and lost 100 pounds.

“When people meet me, they do not see an addict. They do not see a convict. They have no idea actually, and I want people to see that and understand people can change.”

This is his life now, and he loves it.

“I put everything into this. Everything.”

He goes around Sheboygan events, businesses, and farmer's markets sharing his story and mission. The positivity booth goes with him everywhere he goes.

“He’s amazing. He offers positivity to everyone," Max Klave, who recognized Mailo-Podwils inside Biggby, said.

He has become a fixture around town.

“He’s awesome. He’s upbeat. Not afraid to tell his story to anyone who’s willing to listen," Jennifer Dowe said inside the Biggby Coffee.

He started the Positivity Recovery Foundation to help with people’s recovery. You can find more information or contact him by searching Koke MC on Facebook.

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