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Ginger Katz’s promise to her son featured in ‘Chicken Soup for Soul’

Posted: Monday, November 3, 2014
By LESLIE LAKE Hour Staff Writer

NORWALK — Since the 1996 loss of her 20-year-old son Ian Eaccarino to a heroin overdose, Ginger Katz made a promise to her son. The promise became a mission to speak out about drug abuse and the silence surrounding it, and developed into the non-profit Courage to Speak Foundation. Now along with the countless educational presentations she and her husband Larry have made to students, parents, and professionals, Katz has been given a new platform in which to convey her message.

Katz’s story, “A Mother’s Promise to her Son,” is one of 101 stories featured in the newly-published book: “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength.”

“When I met Ginger Katz and her husband, Larry, I knew that I had to tell their story in our book about finding your inner strength. I was struck by what Ginger went through, and how she summoned up the courage and the conviction to speak honestly about her son’s drug addiction and death in order to help other families avoid the same tragic outcome,” said Amy Newmark, publisher and editor-in-chief of “Chicken Soup for the Soul.”

“Amy (Newmark) had reached out to me and said that she wanted to give me a platform,” Katz said. “She said to me ‘I really believe in what you do.’”

Newmark introduces the book by writing, “This is one of the most powerful collections of stories we have published in our 21-year history. I am thrilled to introduce you in these pages to some of the most inspiring people you’ll ever meet.”

“Ginger is one of the many role models we meet in the pages of “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength” and we are honored that she has shared her story with our readers,” Newmark said.

Katz, who speaks candidly about her son’s struggle with drug abuse, said, “The night before Ian died, he had said to me, ‘Mom, I want to see the doctor in the morning … I need help.’

That night, Ian used heroin one last time, and the following morning Katz found her 20-year-old son lifeless in his bed.

“Everyone wanted to know how he died. We were waiting for a toxicology report, but we knew,” Katz said. “Ian was a good kid who made an unhealthy decision to use drugs. I wasn’t ashamed of him, and I wasn’t going to bury him with a lie.”

It was the realization that other families were experiencing what she was that Katz and her husband Larry developed the Courage to Speak® Foundation. Courage to Speak is a 501(c)(3) organization and is dedicated to ” Saving lives by educating and empowering youth to be drug free and encouraging parents to talk to their children about the danger of drugs.”

“The night before Ian’s funeral I woke up at 2 a.m. and had a vision about speaking out. If this was happening to us, it was happening to other families,” Katz said. “That’s how Courage to Speak was born.”

In the foreward to the book written by actress Fran Drescher, Drescher writes: “Pull yourself up, dust yourself off, and play the hand that you’ve been dealt. It’s through the rough spots that we see what kind of stuff we’re made of. Sometimes the best gifts come in the ugliest packages.”

“When Ian died somebody said to me ‘you’re going to receive gifts,’” Katz said. “It wasn’t before long that the gifts unfolded. Those gifts came in the form of children speaking out, and getting help, and emailing me to let me know that my presentation had made a difference to them.”

Katz along with her husband, Larry, present to students, parents, educators, clergy, professionals, law enforcement and others at many forums including state and national conferences. With a team of experts the organization developed drug prevention education curriculum evaluated and recommended by Yale School of Medicine. Facilitators and teachers across the country implement the Courage to Speak Foundation student curriculum in elementary, middle and high schools as well as a multi-session program for parents called Courage to Speak — Courageous Parenting 101®.

“This ride continues to take me places I never dreamed,” Katz said. “Where it leads me, I’m not sure. Although I don’t have all the answers, I believe I have a mission to fulfill.”