Dave Dahl: ‘Adversity is not always bad’

Dave Dahl meeting with company and civic leaders about giving people second chances

"Dave's Killer Bread" founder Dave Dahl at his home, May 15, 2015 (KOIN)
"Dave's Killer Bread" founder Dave Dahl at his home, May 15, 2015 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For Dave Dahl, the last 18 months has been about overcoming. Again.

Dahl, the ex-con founder of Dave’s Killer Bread, weathered his arrest during a manic episode in November 2013 when investigators say he rammed several Washington County deputy patrol cars. In the following months, he was diagnosed as bi-polar, and now is ready to start giving back the way he knows how.

“I feel like now I have things to offer other people, and when I give to other people they give back to me,” Dahl told KOIN 6 News in an exclusive interview Friday.

KOIN 6 News reporter Amy Frazier talks with "Dave's Killer Bread" founder Dave Dahl about his new focus to help people overcome adversity, May 15, 2015 (KOIN)
KOIN 6 News reporter Amy Frazier talks with “Dave’s Killer Bread” founder Dave Dahl about his new focus to help people overcome adversity, May 15, 2015 (KOIN)

“I’m really excited about getting back, that I haven’t actually ruined my life. I think that’s a great message for people, that adversity is not always bad.”

He said his story now is “one of adversity and overcoming. And I’ve done it before.”

In October 2014, he told KOIN 6 News he was having a severe manic episode during that clash with police.

After months of motions and court appearances, Judge Kirsten Thompson in January 2015 decided Dahl could remain free under certain conditions. Among those conditions: Dahl can’t drive a car or go to a bar. He must also avoid alcohol, stay on his medication and continue mental health treatment

Dahl told KOIN 6 News at that time he would use this experience in his ongoing mission to help others. “I know I can do that. I’ve done it before. I just didn’t help myself enough.”

Moving forward now

In April he said he spoke with various company leaders in the first of his talks about giving people second chances. On May 18, Spokane Mayor David Condon is expected to proclaim “Second Chances Week” and note the difference Dahl made in helping give people second chances.

"Dave's Killer Bread" founder Dave Dahl at his home, May 15, 2015 (KOIN)
“Dave’s Killer Bread” founder Dave Dahl at his home, May 15, 2015 (KOIN)

Dahl said he also plans to speak with judges, law enforcement, politicians, clergy and inmates at Geiger Prison, as well as the public, spreading his message about second chances and overcoming adversity.

This Sunday, Dahl will participate in the NAMI Northwest Walk, Oregon’s largest mental health event, at the Eastbank Esplanade. About 4000 people are expected to attend, including Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz and PPB Chief Larry O’Dea.

Dave Dahl put together a video to explain what happened the night of Nov. 14, 2013, and he intends to use the video as a springboard to talk about overcoming tough times.

“I needed to tell people what happened the best I could,” he said, explaining the reason for the video. “I don’t even know what happened. I wasn’t all there.”

“You know, when that incident happened I didn’t think I could overcome,” Dahl told KOIN 6 News Friday. “The fact that I feel like I have and I am and I’m going forward, that is something that’s amazing to me.”

"Dave's Killer Bread" founder Dave Dahl at his home, May 15, 2015 (KOIN)
“Dave’s Killer Bread” founder Dave Dahl at his home, May 15, 2015 (KOIN)

He wants to share his story “because everyone can relate to anyone who’s honest with themselves, can relate to having to overcome something.”

Dahl said he knows some people don’t want him to succeed but said he doesn’t pay much attention to them.

“I’ve learned to be very compassionate for everybody.”

His focus is to reduce the stigma attached with mental illness.

“If you reduce the stigma you get people to come out and admit they have mental illness and they have something that needs to be treated.”

He’s very open and thankful for the support group around him and his medications.

“I’m on a good path. I’m on good meds, I have a lot of people watching me,” he said. “When I get manic I get creative. So it’s about balance, it’s about finding that balance, because if I hadn’t had that sort of manic side to me, that creativity wouldn’t have been there to make Dave’s Killer Bread.”

He’s learned to be humble, he said, but doesn’t worry about stumbling again.

“I don’t worry about it, but I think that I have a healthy concern,” he said. “That I understand.”

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