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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Ian’s Story – The Heart of the Courage to Speak® Foundation

My son, Ian, died on September 10, 1996 in his sleep of an overdose. He was only twenty years old. After he died, one by one, his friends began to come to me. We were all in such pain. I sat and listened, torn between anger and agony, as slowly they began to talk about what had really been going on. Anger doesn’t help. Ian’s friends and his family have to heal. We have to find the courage to speak before it is too late for so many other young people like my son who are in danger of becoming addicted to drugs. Ian was bright, handsome, athletic and popular. If this could happen to him, it could happen to anyone.

Read Ian’s Story Here

Student Reviews

A parent thanked me for bringing Ginger in for such an important topic. Her daughter told her that, “You could hear a pin drop.” … Her daughter never had that reaction from any presentation at the school and that Ginger’s message got through to her.  – Principal William Egan, Wamogo Regional HS

student reviews

“When I first came to my high school, I was appalled at the number of regular people that I was friends with that have smoked pot. Some of them are very religious and some are rebellious, but all smart kids that I would never suspected have at least tried pot are currently doing it. I felt very alone and at first scared, but then I kind of got used to it. I started to think that everyone was doing it. I didn’t want to do drugs, but felt if approached, I wasn’t in control. After hearing Ian’s story, I will never do drugs.” – High School Student “It taught me questions to ask…I found out that, yes, they are offered drugs all the time.” – Parent You should have at least two adults you trust and you can say anything to them. I was shocked on how his [Ian’s] friends didn’t say anything to you.” – 7th Grade Student

“I learned when I was reading your wonderful book [Sunny’s Story] that you can get addicted to drugs. You should not hide things from your parents, like the fact that someone offered you drugs.” – 6th Grade Student

After viewing the Drug Prevention Presentation, students are asked to reflect upon their experience on the dangers of drug abuse and the drug abuse prevention presentation.

Here are letters from students about the Drug Prevention Education Presentation…

Dear Mrs. Katz,

Losing a loved one, due to drugs, can be very hard. I have not experienced that yet, and I don’t plan to anytime soon. When you talked to us about Ian’s story, I never really thought about how bad this situation can be. I used to think about people dying due to old age, or car crashes, but I never thought about people dying due to addiction. The worst thing about addiction is that the person doesn’t just die. You have to watch the person dying bit by bit, and day by day. Even though you can see what’s happening to the person, they can’t. The worst thing is, they’re suffering, and you’re suffering, and before they know it, they’re dead, and a part of you has been taken away from you.

Read the full text >>

The poem below was written by a young girl who was in jail for drug charges, and was addicted to meth. She wrote this poem on the dangers of drug abuse while in jail. As you will soon read, she fully grasped the horrors of the drug, as she tells in this simple, yet profound poem. She was released from jail, but, true to her story, the drug owned her. They found her dead not long after, with the needle still in her arm. Please keep praying. This thing is worse than any of us realize…

My Name Is Meth

I destroy homes, I tear families apart,
I take your children, and that’s just the start.
I’m more costly than diamonds, more precious than gold,

The sorrow I bring is a sight to behold… Read the full text >>


Dear Ginger,

I wanted to thank you for speaking recently at Reed Intermediate School in Newtown. My son recapped your story and our entire family was captivated and touched. It was very obvious to me that it made a dramatic impact on my fifth grader. It also served as a natural segway into more conversations about drugs/alcohol. I wanted you to know when I posed the scenario of friends at a party deciding to try drugs “just once” how important it will be for him to be strong and make the right choice. He replied, “Mom, I’ll just think TOI.” (which means Think Of Ian!!) Thank you! Thank you! Your work makes a big difference in so many young lives and brings the subject to the forefront for parents to face and openly discuss. Lauren Elliott


Dear Mrs. Katz,

I went to high school with Ian and I knew him a little bit. I used to have a huge crush on Ian. LOL. What girl didn’t, he was so handsome, and he was such a kind person. I remember one time when I was having a difficult time with a lot of things and he gave me a huge hug and told me everything would be o.k. It was heartbreaking to learn that Ian had passed away. I can’t imagine your grief.

Read the full text >>

Dear Mr and Mrs Katz,

I am a student at Hewlett High School. Today as I sat in my school auditorium listening to your pain and your tragic loss of your son Ian, all I could think was “why?” Why does this happen? Why are so many children killed by drugs? Why is it that…

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The following song was written by Ian’s God child about losing him to drugs. Ian was only 16 years old when he was asked by his friend Raul to be his child’s God parent..

Ian’s Song
by Chelsey Anne Garica
For my God Father Ian

Well, I came around the time you were gone. I’ve since had no fun. My heart is broken up into bitty pieces. Wish you were here instead…

Read the full text >>

A Special E-mail that Says It All About the Drug Prevention Presentation

Dear Ms. Katz-

my name is Randi and i am a 9th grade student at ————— high school. A few weeks ago you spoke to our class. i was originally not going to come to school that day due to only having 2 classes. my mom told me it was important to learn about drugs, i thought it was just going to be a stupid talk. but i was very wrong…

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I read some of the stuff in your web page that kids sent to you on their opinions on what’s going on with kids and drugs. Someone stated that many kids in high school get involved with drugs. Well, this is true but…

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Reflections of the 6th – 8th Grade Classes on the Courage to Speak Drug Prevention Education Presentation

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Katz:

I really think it is very courageous of you to speak to so many people about something as widely misunderstood and private as this is. It is an undertaking of great size and tediousness, and yet you fulfill it with more…

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Dear Mr. & Mrs. Katz:

During Mrs. Katz’s speech at All Saints, she influenced me not to do drugs. I feel she was an excellent speaker. The influence she had on the children there was phenomenal. As we exited the auditorium, there wasn’t one…

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Dear Mr. & Mrs. Katz:

Mrs. Katz’s speech has made an impact on my life. Her speech taught me a lot of things, like how drugs are very addicting and how they change people physically and mentally. Drugs and denial are very powerful…

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Dear Mr. & Mrs. Katz:

When I heard Mrs. Ginger Katz talk today, I was very moved. I was showed all the terrible and horrifying experiences one mother had to go through, all because of addiction. I learned that addiction is a very terrible and powerful…

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Dear Mr. & Mrs. Katz:

When I first went into the auditorium, I didn’t know what we had to go in there for. When I came out, I felt very affected in a way I rarely feel…

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Dear Mrs. Katz:

About two weeks ago, you came to my school. My friends and I weren’t really sure what to expect of the presentation but what I learned that day will live with me forever. There has always been a part of me that has known the real results of taking drugs but I never really took the time to think about it.

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