Finding Courage: Remembering Ian
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Finding Courage: Remembering Ian

By Ginger Katz

Ian Eaccarino

I mark a solemn anniversary since my beloved son, Ian Eaccarino, left us due to a tragic drug overdose at the tender age of 20. Even after all this time, the pain feels as raw as it did that fateful day.

Ian passed away in his sleep, just a day before he was set to begin his journey towards recovery. I found him at 6 a.m., right before what should have been my morning run. We rushed him to the hospital, desperately hoping for a miracle, but he had already left us a few hours before. It was a nightmare I could never have imagined – burying my own 20-year-old son.

My heart broke into a million pieces. Initially, I couldn't bear to share the truth about Ian's passing. When asked what happened, I was rendered speechless, unable to find the words. I had witnessed Ian's struggles just the day before, and deep down, I knew what the toxicology report would reveal. But saying it out loud was too painful. I couldn't bring myself to tell my daughter Candi, who has Down Syndrome, that her brother was gone. Her father had to deliver that devastating news.

The night before Ian's funeral was sleepless as I grappled with what to say to the hundreds of mourners who would gather to bid him farewell. I woke my husband, confessing that I didn't think I could go through with it, all because I was holding back the truth. That night, a profound realization struck me. We decided to share our pain to prevent others from enduring the same agony. We vowed to be open and honest about how Ian lost his life.

They say the truth sets you free, and I believe it. Once I made the choice to be open about Ian's battle with drugs, I found some solace, and I could finally sleep. The next day, I stood strong at the funeral, comforting grieving young souls in their black attire, their sorrow a stark reminder of the battle against drugs that we face. But before I could educate others, I had to educate myself. I pursued scholarships to learn about addiction and recovery, and I immersed myself in researching drug abuse online. From that journey, the Courage to Speak Foundation was born.

Since Ian's passing, many have asked me to share his story and the impact of addiction on our family and friends. The Courage to Speak Foundation was founded with a mission to save lives by empowering youth to be drug-free and encouraging parents to communicate more effectively with their children about the dangers of drugs. My husband, Larry, and I have tirelessly educated ourselves about the dangers of drugs for young people. We provide the latest information on substance abuse through our presentations, curriculum for students and parents, and our website,

The most crucial lesson we've learned is that secrets and silence are our common foes. This is why we travel across our community, state, and nation, inspiring youth, parents, and educators to find the courage to speak out. Our hope is that no other family will endure the heart-wrenching loss that ours has suffered.

I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to each of you for your unwavering support. Please join us in remembering Ian and supporting our mission to prevent others from experiencing the same pain. Together, we can make a difference.

Ginger Katz

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