About Buddy's Purpose
Finding Purpose in Loss
My youngest and only son, Justin was a cute, blonde headed little boy who could make you mad one minute and laugh the next. "Buddy", as he was know to friends and family alike, enjoyed fishing, ice fishing, snowmobiling, boating, four-wheeling and bonfires.
On November 11, 2011, I lost my son to a heroin overdose.
He was only 26 years old when a friend found him dead in his apartment. Justin had struggled with addiction for over 10 years. He never wanted to talk about how bad it was and chose to distanced himself from us when using. As his mother, I believe he probably had an undiagnosed mental illness as he often struggled with school and other highly structured environments. It was through this struggle he began self medicating in a misguided attempt to cope.
One of the saddest aspects of his addiction was how it eventually turned him into someone he never wanted to become and others didn't want to be around. A year before Justin died, I began to realize his illness and resent the lying, manipulating person his addiction transformed him into. I held a longing hope he would some day defeat his demons and go on live a healthy and fulfilling life.
On that fall day, that hope had vanished and my life changed forever. I felt so alone and shamed by how my son died but knew that day I had to share our story so other parents did not feel the way I did.
I immediately began my search for a support group and found GRASP (Grief Support After A Substance Passing). Through GRASP, I met Julie Wendorf who lost her son Chris only 4 months earlier. Through our common loss, we became near instant friends and spent the next few months attending support group meeting and retreats together. In August of 2012, we planned and held our first Overdose Awareness & Memory Walk and through the help of our communities, continue to do so annually.
We continue to actively participate substance abuse awareness events around the country including rallying at Chicago's Overdose Awareness Day events and traveling with our daughters, Amber Pratt and Tiffany Halterman to the Fed-Up Rally and Unite to Face Addiction Concert in Washington, DC.
Because of these events, we began to feel empowered and proud to be making history in memory of our sons and brothers.
In 2014, on the crest of this empowerment and with the support and help of my family, we decided to take the next step in forming Buddy's Purpose to actively promote overdose awareness and substance abuse education throughout our area communities.
His Purpose is Our Purpose
Buddy's Purpose is a nonprofit organization founded in memory of those loved & lost as well as those still struggling with addiction and substance abuse. We help provide support for both those currently suffering from addiction's grasp and their families struggling to cope. In the event of a loss to substance abuse, Buddy's Purpose strives to offer comfort to those collecting the pieces left in tragedy's wake.
An important component of my work has been through the outreach, training and distributing Naloxone (Narcan), an overdose prevention drug in coordination with the Jolt Foundation in Peoria, IL.
Since the fall of 2014, I have successfully trained over 60 volunteers as lifesavers in its use and have set out to double this number in the years to come.
Recently, we have joining forces with other area individuals concerned with Addiction and Substance Abuse outreach, including Julie Wendorf, Debbie Hallam, and Sherri Countryman to organize, promote and hold Dare 2 Care About Addiction events.
While my efforts will never bring my son back, on a personal level, I have unyielding hope we can help alleviate the shame and stigma plaguing those battling the devastating disease of addiction and keep other families from experiencing the tragic pain of losing a loved one to an overdose.
I miss him every minute of every day...My son's life had a purpose and I will be the one to carry it on.
Thank you for your time and support,