A couple weeks ago while I was shopping at Lowe’s, a young woman approached me and said, “I just want to thank you. My husband is a heroin addict and I’ve been following 525 Foundation on social media since the day you started it. I read everything and it all hits home for me. Every time. I also want you to know how much you’ve inspired me… I recently passed my nursing boards and am getting my life together. Thank you for everything you’ve done and are doing. You’re making a difference.”
Her kindness left me speechless. By now I’m used to people approaching me with an, “I’m sorry” or a “I don’t know how you do it,” but this? This was so new and made me feel so good - it made me feel like the work we're doing really matters.
It’s also exactly what I needed before hitting the road for a whirlwind fall blitz to share our story with thousands of new kids and parents from coast to coast. And we are pumped! We’ll be in 9 states over the next 5 weeks. NINE STATES, you guys!
Last week was the South Central Opioid Summit in Bloomington, Indiana.
Right now, I’m in West Palm Beach prepping for tomorrow’s talk with students at a school assembly. Then tomorrow evening, I get to tell my story to parents of those same students.
This is what it’s all about, right? We share our story with the kids and then with the parents to help foster a full-circle discussion in their home, in the car on the way to sports practice or, if that’s too difficult, maybe even through a simple text conversation. Whatever works, we’ll take it. When our story can get parents talking to their kids (and vice versa) about the dangers of prescription drugs, it’s a WIN. If we can save one life, it’s a WIN.
After Florida, I’m headed to New York for Walgreens’ We Day. Ever heard of it? WE is a movement that believes when we come together we can create an even better world. We Day 2018 in New York features world-renowned speakers, A-list performers and tens of thousands of youth to celebrate the past year of action that transformed communities and changed lives.
And guess what? Our story is part of that movement! Earlier this year, representatives from Walgreens approached me and asked if 525 Foundation would join their #itendswithus campaign to educate teens nationwide about the opioid crisis. We jumped at the chance to touch more lives and I am now an #itendswithus ambassador! It’s so wonderful to have our story shared on this national platform.
From there, I’m hitting several more schools in Connecticut and North Dakota and then heading to an event in Des Moines called Inspire Iowa’s Future. This is another really cool one, thanks to the energy and excitement surrounding it. The organization focuses on reaching middle school, high school and college students, as well as those who interact and do life with these young adults. Through this particular event, students and their mentors – parents, teachers, coaches, sponsors – get to hear uplifting, encouraging and thought-provoking messages from local and nationally recognized individuals. How exciting is it that I’m the prelude to the event’s keynote speaker, Michael Jr.!?
After Iowa, it’s more school talks in Minnesota and then the Utah Summit on Opioid Awareness. This three-day event will address the opioid crisis and bring together community and state leaders to work toward solutions to the epidemic. A special thank you to Utah Senator Mike Lee for inviting and involving 525 Foundation!
Then at the end of October, we’re being honored with a really cool award in our home city… we’ve been named “Playmaker of the Year” by the Kelly Cares Foundation. What an honor. This non profit has championed us from the very beginning. The love, support and “get it girl” attitude they give 525 Foundation (and me) is immeasurable and means the world to us. We are incredibly humbled!
It’s been strange, uplifting and, at times, overwhelming for me to navigate through this journey of education and awareness. I am so touched that people care. I am honored that you are taking time to read this post about our impact and then keep the conversation going. Together, we are pushing forward in the fight against prescription drug abuse.
The work we put into telling our story is exhausting and never ending…. in the most rewarding way possible. We’ve chosen to immerse ourselves in the problem – the opioid crisis – by increasing awareness and by educating kids, parents, lawmakers and anyone else who will listen about the dangers of prescription drugs.
On June 15, 2015, we became a statistic, as did Nick and Jack. While our circumstance of losing two of our sons in the same night is unique, our overwhelming feelings of grief and loss are not. We’re now part of a community of people who had loved ones taken much too soon (and are fighting to keep their loved ones alive) because of dangerous prescription drugs. But knowing we’re not alone and that the problem persists is one thing that keeps us going.
Here are just two of the stories submitted through our website from people around the world who find 525 Foundation and feel compelled to share their own experiences.
My son hunter
My only child, Hunter, accidentally overdosed on a mixture of MMDA (ecstacy) & Xanax on the morning of September 5, 2014 at 18 years of age. Hunter was an extraordinary young man who had his whole life ahead of him. He deeply cared about others, loved his family, friends & his dog Juno, but unfortunately made a fatal choice by consuming some pills. He went to sleep & never awoke the next day. I saw the story about losing two of your boys and I wanted to share Hunter's story with all of you. My heart goes out to all of you in the Savage family & I pray for your peace of mind and serenity that I know it takes on a daily basis for you all to keep moving forward. Many blessings to you all.
Small Town, Big Crisis
My name is Neeley and I know all too well what can happen to a family when opioids come in the picture. My story is a little different though. In 2010 my husband was in a car accident and was life flighted to a hospital. From there many doctors prescribed in pain pills. He had never had an issue with pain pills until then. They kept giving and giving until he couldn’t stop. Almost 8 years later, he is finally in a faith-based rehab getting help. I have sat and watched him struggle for so long. He came near death and almost didn’t make it. While today I am thankful he finally doesn’t want a pill, I worry about all the other families affected by this crisis. Our small town is swarmed with people selling pills and feeling off someone else’s addiction. I would love to know how to get this message spread to our community without getting shut out. I want my voice to be heard that it can happen to anyone. The picture uploaded is on Easter Sunday. I am thankful that God has helped us thru this terrible crisis. Thank you for allowing me to share our story!
Last Friday was overdose awareness day….EVERY overdose is someone’s loved one. Unfortunately, overdose and addiction are becoming part of everyone’s story. THIS is why our story and every story we hear about is important. THIS is why we will continue to share until the opioid crisis no longer exists. What can you do to help? Keep sharing and keep talking about the problem. Educate yourself and talk to your kids about the dangers of misuse and abuse. Talk to your friends about what’s in their medicine cabinets and how they can get rid of it safely. It takes a village!
Becky Savage’s two teenage sons – Nick and Jack – accidentally overdosed on a deadly cocktail of alcohol and prescription drugs on the same night in June 2015. Becky and her husband Mike turned their unimaginable grief into a powerful message: educating students, parents, lawmakers and anyone else who will listen about the dangers of prescription drugs. The couple created 525 Foundation (the boys’ hockey numbers were 5 and 25) with a goal of preventing another family from experiencing the pain the Savage family still struggles with every day. To date, Becky has bravely shared her story with more than 60,000 high school students from Indiana to Texas to Oregon and presented at conferences across the country. She’s spoken to members of a United States Senate opioid crisis committee, serves as an ambassador for the Walgreens #ItEndsWithUs campaign and participated in countless interviews for podcasts and news media.