Sunny’s Story

A drug prevention book written by a mother who lost her son to a drug overdose from the viewpoint of the family beagle, Sunny. It's a great learning tool for kids, parents, teachers, and others.

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Educational Programs & Curriculum

Learn more about Courage to Speak® substance use prevention education programs for Elementary, Middle, and High School students.

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Reviews About the Drug Abuse Prevention Story from the Public

Below are quotes from children and students after hearing the drug abuse prevention story.

Ginger, I picked up a book from Larry at the reunion meeting. As a parent who has lost a child, my heart goes out to you and Larry. I shed tears reading this book. I will be picking up 5 more copies at the next meeting and pass it on……….

Ginger, Thank you so much for sharing these emails, they made me feel good and they must be the fuel that keeps you going. The feedback from staff and students has been wonderful, I know you touched many individuals and opened a lot of dialogue. I was in the middle school this morning and asked the nth graders if their older siblings had talked about the assembly and many hands went up which led into a conversation about your presentation and if you would be coming to the middle school. (I am working on that one). When I got back to my office after you left yesterday I had a message from the Superintendent’s office asking if I would appear on a closed circuit cable station that the District uses, to talk about Courage to Speak. It is a short interview type format to keep the community informed about things going on in the district. Thanks again for your wonderful program, Ian would be proud!!!!!

This is profoundly important in all our lives. In November ’07 my son admitted to having a drug and alcohol problem and wanted help. He admitted himself to the Armes Acres Drug/Alcohol rehabilitation center in Carmel NY. His aftercare involves AA meetings every night. Stephen is 17 years old and a senior in High School. He has given up all his relationships and does not associate with any of his previous friends. It’s been tremendously difficult but he has made a life-saving decision by asking for help. My life has changed forever and I will always be grateful for all the information available to parents and children who need it. All my best wishes to families affected by addiction, Colleen Gilbertson

Dear Ginger –

I attended last night’s Courageous Parenting class and was so impressed with your ability to speak to everyone about your son’s tragedy and all the steps that led to his death. To say I am scared for both my boys would be an understatement but I am really looking forward to learning so very much from you and your staff over the next 4 weeks, I am confident it will give me the strength and knowledge to help protect and inform them.

Your husband Larry read a poem from Ricardo Montalban last night and I would love to have a copy. I know a woman in the audience asked for a copy but if you all would be able to get all of us a copy of that poem for next week with our packet that would be wonderful!!!

Your presentation was absolutely wonderful and extremely informative, I look forward to hearing and learning more.


From a Mom:

I feel compelled to write this email to you. I went to the meeting at the… High School last night and feel so moved and enlightened by both you and your husband.My only regret is not bringing my twin 12 year old’s. I hope at some point you will speak to the 6th and 7th grade children at the Higgins as I understand you are speaking with the 8th grade children today. As a mother I feel I am building the foundation for my children to be successful through the years .I feel one way to minimize the dangers is to start at an earlier level. This being said and done, before it is at a party or under their nose. Unfortunately parents do not speak until it is to late. I have so many thoughts rolling around in my head after listening to you, I guess you have opened my eyes and ears. You see- I have always thought children that get hooked are from ” lesser households” but after hearing you , I realize this could be any of us. Thank you !!!

The slide show is so moving and I have to let you know I can not get your beautiful boy’s face out of my head. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Peabody Ma 01960

“I was there to hear you speak at… Middle School in Madison and you have left a lasting impression in my mind. Never before have I heard someone speak with such honesty to the general public about the progression of addiction. You are an eloquent speaker and I applaud your courage to stand and bare it all. The message you carry is so powerful and I hope your mission will continue to gain recognition. You clearly dispelled the myths of not in my house, my school, my community. Truly, none of us are immune.

I appreciated your candor about recovery programs and their benefits. That too, is a taboo subject, except for those who have a personal experience with addiction.”

“You gave me insight to start my own gathering of information and outreach in my neighborhood.We need to help each other help our kids.”

“As the father of a young man who is involved to some degree as Ian was, I found your discussion to be chillingly all too familiar. My son, too, has experienced the anger, pain, frustration and isolation that accompany drug use. My wife and I live with the fear of what will happen next. I have vowed to bring the spiritual back into my three sons’ lives in hopes that it will help. It beats driving to counselors, waiting in police stations and receiving those terrifying late-night phone calls.”

“On our way home from your presentation, my son told me he knew of kids in his eighth grade class who were taking drugs. On the way to your talk, he had emphatically said just the opposite.Thank-you for enabling him to confide in us.”

“Your son reminded me of mine. He, too, is an athlete. On our way home after your presentation, we talked about Ian. We also talked about how dangerous it would be for a person with asthma to inhale a toxic substance. It was an important conversation which was made possible by the impact of Ian’s story. I hope your words stay with him when someone approaches him someday.

“Listening to Ginger gave me the courage to make the hard decisions needed to help our son who is an alcohol and heroin addict receive the treatment he needed. Parents who love their children can ill afford not to invest their time to attend, learn and understand how they can help their most precious possession, their children.”

“As a mother, I could not help but feel both your love for Ian and your pain. Thank-you for speaking the truth.”

Quotes About the Drug Abuse Prevention Story from Kids

Hi, you spoke at my school today. I was very gald that you came in. I have been struggling with anxiety problems for a couple of months now, and one of the stresses is kids at school. i know a lot of kids who are good people, but get involved in drinking and taking drugs. This took a load of stress off of me, because i thought that the kids had no real way of being affected enough to see the bad bad parts of drugs. You touched me with your speech today, and im sure that you touched my classmates too. Thank you for taking a load of stress off of me, and making my anxiety that much less

Mrs. Katz,

Il listened to your presentation today at… High School, boy was it amazing. I would like to thank you so much for coming, it really showed a lot of us kids how much drugs really hurt and what they not only do to our own lives but everyone around us. Some of my friends that do, do drugs really listened today and are now giving it up. It is really amazing how one presentation can touch so many people. I give you so much courage and bravery to get up in front of a room and speak about your son. I just wanted to thank you so much, and to say this really has changed the outlook on a lot of young people. Best of luck with your organization!

Dear Mrs. Katz, My name is… and I am a senior at… High School. I didn’t have a chance to speak with you today after your presentation but I wanted to say i think you have such courage to speak out about your son and his addiction. Your story is touching and insightful. I could relate to a lot you said about addiction and the signs because my mother is an alcoholic. Hearing you speak about people enabling others showed me that I myself have done the same thing. This whole process with my mother has been incredible difficult and your story made me see that there are other people out there who can help and that I should talk to. I just wanted to say thank you for such an amazing presentation and for making other young adults aware of the struggles of addictions. I wish you the best of luck! Sincerely, Kate Johnson

Mrs. Katz,

Ilistened to your presentation today at… High School, boy was it amazing. I would like to thank you so much for coming, it really showed a lot of us kids how much drugs really hurt and what they not only do to our own lives but everyone around us. Some of my friends that do, do drugs really listened today and are now giving it up. It is really amazing how one presentation can touch so many people. I give you so much courage and bravery to get up in front of a room and speak about your son. I just wanted to thank you so much, and to say this really has changed the outlook on a lot of young people. Best of luck with your organization!

Hi Mr. and Mrs. Katz,

My name is… and i am a junior at… Highschool. I am so sorry for your loss. You spoke at our school last week and i just wanted to say that your presentation caught me so well. It was so touching, it makes me feel as if ive known Ian my whole life. It taught alot to not just me but to our whole school. Ive never seen someone touch a bunch of highschoolers like you did. Normally kids hold in there emotions and feelings so no one could see them but not these past few days, at that assembly we were all crying, even the kids that could not get the tears out were crying inside. It was like a new life was shining above us all.

The past few years of my life have not been the best of them. My sister has been addicted to OC’s and Coke and its killed us, broken the family apart at times. I have sat between the yelling, arguing, fighting, crying, everything. Over time she has gotten better, she finally admitted to having a drug problem and went to a rehab twice over the summer of 2004. It was such a hard time for my whole family. Experiencing some one you love doing drugs is the one of the hardest things in this world, you feel as if you cannot do anything, you cannot help them, you can only show your love and support, hoping and wishing that they are going to take it and realize. Through your presentation and through my experience with my sister has taught me a lot. I have realized you never can take anything for granted, but you have to live with what you got. You can’t let the peer pressure of others take over you and you can’t let the pressure of others also take over you. You have to live for yourself and work for yourself, but you can’t be scared to talk out. You have to have the Courage To Speak, and thats what i like.

I have learned that i need that Courage to speak when i know when somethigns wrong with someone or something. I’ve learned. and its one of the best feelings knowing that someone knows that you are there, even just to talk. So thank you so much for everything. Thank you for giving me the courage to speak and to help out.

(there is one thing i actually was wondering if you had, By any chance do you have a bumper sticker, or key chains, or any some sort that shows the Courage to Speak. If you did and would be able to send me one i would truly appreciate it. I just want to have something to show people its ok to talk and show my sister also. Thank you so much!)


APRIL 4, 2002

A Mother’s cry,
Her pain.
It’s felt.
“Mom? “Mom!”
“Why the tears?”
“Can’t you see me?”
“Can’t you hear me?”
“Please, God, I’ll do anything!
I love my friends and family.
The last thing I would want
Is their suffering!
I made the wrong decision!
I couldn’t say NO
It was a mistake!
I’ll be clean of drugs,
I promise!
I see myself.
Why are you putting me on a stretcher?
A white Sheet,
Stop them!

mrs.katz you came to my school… middle school in bristol almost a year ago ive been meaning to write to you. your story is very touching.i dont know how you can do it, i started crying this puersuaded me to deffienetlly say no to are a very strong person and your son was an innocent person who was over taken by drugs. i would also like to say very nice job mr.katz well thank you again and god bless you and your family will always be in my heart.

“What I kept from your talk was the picture of Ian’s face. It shined a light on a side I never really understood before.”

“I’d never heard a story from the parent’s perspective.”

“We all know drugs are out there, but we never really believe people will ask us if we want any or if trying it will make us get hooked. You opened our eyes.”

“It reminded me of people I know and situations I’ve dealt with.”

“Parents need to warn their kids and be serious about it because when a kid tries a drug just to see what it’s like, he doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into.”

“I felt amazed that a boy that was an honor student and liked so much by lots of kids was addicted to drugs and died from it.”

“It will make people think twice about taking a hit of marijuana since you guys explained how pot is a gate-way drug.”

“I think it served its purpose of scaring the crap out of us. It was very depressing and ruined the rest of my day. I felt terrible for her and I think it had an impact on me.”

“Doing drugs is very important not to do. If you get started, you might end up dead.”