In less than 24 hours, country musician Nick Rucker will make his first-ever live television appearance during his first ever trip to Alabama.
It's an appearance more than two years in the making. Rucker is a 10-year Army veteran who spent tours in Iraq and Afghanistan but struggled on his return to the States.
"After I got out of active duty in 2015, I had a pretty bad drinking problem," he said. "... My family gave me a kind of ultimatum: get your (stuff) together or figure out something else."
Rucker chose the former, completing rehab and attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. He decided to put the energy he once spent on drinking into music.
As part of the musical recovery, he reached out to other musicians, ones he knew had also struggled with addiction.
"Of the 10 or 20 I reached out to, I maybe heard back from two," Rucker said.
One of them was Richard Patrick, frontman for the rock band Filter. The other was Dan Marsala, singer for Story of the Year. Rucker said they became mentors for him, with Marsala even lending vocals to one of the four tracks on Rucker's EP, "After Everything."
"I get a lot of messages through my music page or my Facebook page," Rucker said. "A lot of people through Messenger reach out to share a story or say, 'I need help with this or this.'"
It's help Rucker does his best to provide, whether it's directing people to an AA meeting in their neighborhood, giving someone a bit of emotional support or sharing his own story and struggle.
"To me, looking back on whenever I was needing help, there were just not a lot of people I could turn to," he said. "... Now it's my goal to get my story out there because I feel like there needed to be more opportunity for people who were looking for this help to be like, 'Hey, I can reach out to him.'"
That goal brought him to North Alabama for a three-stop mini tour. The first stop is 6 a.m. Thursday with local television show "Cooper & Company" on WTZT-11 in Athens.
On Friday, he'll travel to Decatur for a 7 p.m. show at Bank Street Grill. Then Saturday, it's back to Limestone County for a show at East Limestone High School as part of the school's winter concert.
The concert follows the school's winter carnival, which is scheduled 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and features a petting zoo, games, inflatables, face painting, pictures with Santa and more. Tickets are $10 for the carnival and $15 for the concert, which will begin at 5 p.m. in the school's gym.