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

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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.
There’s this saying, “You can kill two birds with one stone.” That’s what I think drugs do. Drugs, (the one stone) will not only kill the victim, but it will kill someone else, in some way. Even if the other person just feels like a part of them was taken away; that’s killing their spirit. I don’t understand why drug companies/dealers are allowed to continue their businesses. Hopefully one day they will be stopped.I strongly believe that you were the only person that knew what was going on with Ian, and worried. Other people doubted you, but you knew in your heart what was happening. The other people around Ian were being too nice and enabling him. I do not believe that it was your fault that Ian died. As a mother, it was your responsibility to watch and help Ian, but you knew, and Ian knew, that it wasn’t your entire job.I knew a lot about drugs because of all my teachers and parents, but I never looked at drugs as seriously, until I heard your speech. I now know that drugs are not only bad for you, but it ruins everything, and everyone, around you. I also know that even if you try a little bit, you can
consider yourself dead. You can get hooked so easily. Maybe you can be a lucky one and survive, but not everyone is lucky. I am so glad that you came to our school, and talked about your story. It’s not easy for someone to do something like that, but I’m glad you were one of the brave ones. I will share Ian’s story to all my friends and my relatives. Your speech was really good, and I’m glad you came to our school!Sincerely,
Roton Middle School

The poem below was written by a young girl who was in jail for drug charges, and was addicted to meth. She wrote this 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.
If you need me, remember I’m easily found,
I live all around you – in schools and in town
I live with the rich, I live with the poor,
I live down the street, and maybe next door.
I’m made in a lab, but not like you think,
I can be made under the kitchen sink.
In your child’s closet, and even in the woods,
If this scares you to death, well it certainly should.
I have many names, but there’s one you know best,
I’m sure you’ve heard of me, my name is crystal meth.
My power is awesome, try me you’ll see,
But if you do, you may never break free.
Just try me once and I might let you go,
But try me twice, and I’ll own your soul.
When I possess you, you’ll steal and you’ll lie,
You do what you have to — just to get high.
The crimes you’ll commit for my narcotic charms
Will be worth the pleasure you’ll feel in your arms.
You’ll lie to your mother, you’ll steal from your dad,
When you see their tears, you should feel sad.
But you’ll forget your morals and how you were raised,
I’ll be your conscience, I’ll teach you my ways.
I take kids from parents, and parents from kids,
I turn people from God, and separate friends.
I’ll take everything from you, your looks and your pride,
I’ll be with you always — right by your side.
You’ll give up everything – your family, your home,
Your friends, your money, then you’ll be alone.
I’ll take and take, till you have nothing more to give,
When I’m finished with you, you’ll be lucky to live.
If you try me be warned – this is no game,
If given the chance, I’ll drive you insane.
I’ll ravish your body, I’ll control your mind,
I’ll own you completely, your soul will be mine.
The nightmares I’ll give you while lying in bed,
The voices you’ll hear, from inside your head.
The sweats, the shakes, the visions you’ll see,
I want you to know, these are all gifts from me.
But then it’s too late, and you’ll know in your heart,
That you are mine, and we shall not part.
You’ll regret that you tried me, they always do,
But you came to me, not I to you.
You knew this would happen, many times you were told,
But you challenged my power, and chose to be bold.
You could have said no, and just walked away,
If you could live that day over, now what would you say?
I’ll be your master, you will be my slave,
I’ll even go with you, when you go to your grave.
Now that you have met me, what will you do?
Will you try me or not? It’s all up to you.
I can bring you more misery than words can tell,
Come take my hand, let me lead you to hell.

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 drugs are so appealing and look so cool to teenagers? Why do teens get pressured into doing drugs by others? Why does it seem like everyone else is doing it, and if you dont you arent “cool” or you dont fit in the way you want to. Why should a teen have to do drugs to get respect from other people? Drugs are no way to make friends. If you had to make your friends by doing drugs then they arent really your friends. I sat among my fellow students listening to you today. I was so frustrated.
While listening to you and after you had spoken I heard my fellow students making comments like, “Do they think we are going to stop doing drugs because of this?” or other comments like, “You have to know your limits and know when to stop, and most of us do, so this doesnt really affect us.” The comment that bothered me most though was the one said by the student sitting not too far away from me, “Whoever does drugs deserves to die. If they are stupid enough to not know when to stop.” People like that trully bother me. Its thoose people, the ones making the nasty comments who are the ones that pressure other teens to do drugs the most.Today after hearing you speak for the second time, after I heard you last night, I felt your pain. How much frustration and anger and sadness you must have felt when it was trully almost hopless to help your loved son. I saw your tears when you spoke about loosing him that terrible morning. But the thing I saw that I admired the most about you was the way you still adored and admired your son for all he had did in his life. I saw how you forgave him and how difficult it must have been. I could feel how much you love him and how much he must have meant to you for you to travel to all diffrent places to try to make teens see what they are doing to themselves. I could see how important it was to you to make others aware of how much pain and suffering is involved by loosing a child, or a friend to drugs. The truth is, the drug problem is out of control. No one seems to understand what a problem it is and how many lives are being lost due to this. Everyone preffers to stay silent and not have enough strength to speak. Whether they are ashamed or just dont recognize the problem….I’ll never understand. There will always be a large number of teens sitting in your audience listening to you who will just keep saying to themselves “I dont have a problem, this is a waste of my time, why am i here? do theese people think im going to listen to them? they arent my parents!” Thoose teens are the ones who have completly lost control of their lives and dont even understand how serious of a situation it is.Please though, dont let thoose people stop you. There are also people in your audience who have done drugs then heard your story and were inspired to stop. You may have not affected all of the school community but you did get through to some. The thing is though, as that may not seem good enough, its a start. A start to a very long journey. One where people will have to work together. You made many people relize today the tragic mistakes they were making. And that…well that was a start. It was more than a start. It was a start to something bigger and better. Hopefully there will be a day where drugs arent even nearly a problem as they are today. I hope you continue doing what your doing and never stop. You talked about your sons heart being broken by the girl who made him choose drugs or her. And you told about the heartbreak and sadness he felt when she left him. Many teens start using drugs for that reason. The reason of heartbreak.I went through a tough breakup with a guy I had been with for two years. When we broke up it was a similar situation but not entirly. I did not want to deal with my pain so I started drinking. I liked the feeling of being able to be happy even if it was just for a little while. After you came along though, after you spoke to me about Ian, I am going to try my hardest to break away from my drinking habbits.I wish I could make you understand how much your story has touched me and made me think. I want you to know how important you are, even if you only get through to a couple of kids….your still saving hundreds of lives. When I got home today I went straight onto your website. The way you love your son is so amazing to me. Everything you do for him is so great. He would be so proud of you.Thank you so much for visiting my school and many other schools. Even if you only touch a couple of lives thoose couple could mean the world to many others. I admire everything you do. Your strength and your fighting power to tak to all theese teens. Thank you. Thank you so much.I am so sorry to hear the tragic story of how you lost your son. But now he is your angel. And I can bet he is smiling down at you from heaven. He seemed like a really great person. And some say “everything happens for a reason”, well i think the reason for this was that Ian was always an angel. He came down to visit and change peoples lives forever. He showed people what love was and how much it hurt to loose that love. He has saved many lives today by teenagers listening to you speak about his life. You have a trully amazing son.You also have one of the most loving and amazing families I have ever seen before. Thank you again.Love From, a trully changed person.

The following song was written by Ian’s God child. 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 on heaven beaches. I don’t remember that much. The only think I’m sure of is that you loved me. I think maybe that’s what you died from that too. Being loved too much. But I knew it was destiny’s call. Maybe some people think I’m to you to understand. But let me be the one to tell you that it’s loud and clear. I know where I stand a man, to me, right now that’s the best place to be. I now you would thing that too. Love you much. Chelsey

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. I often think about him over the years and one day I was reading the newspaper and an article on your courage to speak foundation was in there. It’s absolutely wonderful and admirable that you do what you do. I’ve been a single mother since my divorce in 2001 and one day I’d like to provide services and resources for single mother’s not able to make it on their own. Turning our own experiences into something for the better is a way to make the world a better place and something I believe God wants us all to do. My son Brian is 7 yrs old and I want the best for him and his future. With organizations like yours offering knowledge and support, I’m sure many lives have been and will be saved. When my son gets older, I will more than likely bring him to one of your presentations as well as I’ll speak to him about drugs starting now. If there is anyway I can ever help with your organization, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’ll do whatever I can. Thank you for doing what you do Mrs. Katz. God Bless you!   Sincerely, Amy

A Special E-mail that Says It All

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.

when i first came to ————- high i was applaud at the number of regular people that i was friends with that have smoked pot before. Some of the are very religious and some are rebellious but all smart kids i would never suspect had at least tried pot of are currently doing it. i felt very alone and at first scared but then i kind of got use to it.i started to think that every one was doing it. i didn’t want to do drugs but felt if approched i wasn’t in control.

after hearing Ian’s story i will never do drugs.

i would like to donate some money to your foundation so that other kids like myself have the opprutunity to hear you speak and changed their minds also. i save money in a tzedakah box in my house. a tzedakah box is something jews keep and put charity in. i recived this one at my bar-mitzvah. every year one my anniversay (may29) i donate the money inside to a orgaization of my choice. last year i gave $80 to the cancer society. this year i have chose your’s.

there is only one thing i ask for in return. i noticed that my brother and mother both have a courage to speak key chain. i would like one too, so that everyday i can remind myself and at party’s were i am sure i willincounter drinking i can make the right choice and have the courage to speak.

thank you for changinf my life-



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, sadly to say, kids are starting to do drugs in middle school. I really don’t know why people do them. Some of the people I know that do drugs, do it to be cool, and by the time they realize that its not that great and want to quit, they are too late. Its really a sad thing, watching people ruin their lives just because they thought trying drugs was kool. I got offered drugs plenty of times, but thanx to you and my family, I was able to be strong enough and say no, because I don’t want to mess up my future.

Well, I look forward into seeing you.
Keep shining 🙂

Reflections of the 6th – 8th Grade Classes on the Courage to Speak

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 than apparent grace and agility. I am sure that Ian is very proud of you for your great courage in what you are doing. You have touched all of our hearts and I believe I speak for all of us when I say that you have forever left footprints in my life and that you and Ian will always hold a special place in my heart. A poem that your story reminds me of, and I am sure you have heard, is “Footprints in the Sand”, for not only has God helped carry Ian through the hardest parts of his life, but so have you, and with the greatest of grace nonetheless. It is important for you to remember that Ian is not dead. He lives on inside of you and everyone who has ever heard one of your speeches. He talks to you always – in your dreams, in your thoughts, but above all, in your heart. However, it may sometime be no more than a whisper, so listen closely. When a gentle summer breeze caresses your body, that is him tenderly kissing you. When the sun’s soft rays warm your body, that is his loving embrace. Be happy, for Ian is always smiling down upon you. Do not fret, for Ian is proud as ever of you and loves you always. So listen to what he tells you. Partake of his undying love and he does yours. You are some of the most loving, tender, caring people I have ever met; so is Ian. I have met him, for he lives in you, and now, he lives in us. God bless you, Good luck and Godspeed to you.

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 minute where I didn’t hear an excellent comment about her speech. I also thought that she had an enormous amount of courage. For her to speak about the painful death of her son, the amount of courage she had must have been enormous.

As I said before, she was an excellent speaker. Her information was well-compiled, and her speeches were well-written. I felt that she was an educated person who only wanted the best for her son. I feel troubled and saddened about her loss. I wish only the best for her and her family and that the image of her son in his good years lives on forever.

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 and take over people’s lives. I think that if anyone has a problem such as drug addiction, they should talk to someone instead of denying and hiding it. Her story made me realize how serious drug addictions are and how hard it is to stop.

I wish to thank Mrs. Katz for speaking to our school. She has changed my perspective on drugs and its effects. She has a lot of courage and strength to speak about her life story in front of a school. She should be listened to wherever she goes because what she says can change the life and the actions of a teenager who has an addiction. She has been through a lot, and I admire her for getting through the way she did so she can help people to make the right choices.

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 disease one can have. It changes the life of not only yourself but of many other people, including family members and friends. I also learned that addiction starts at eleven or twelve years of age. I was taught that adolescents who use cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana and inhalants in middle school have an 80% chance of using cocaine and other powerful drugs by the time they are 18.

I am very grateful that my school, All Saints, invited Ginger Katz to talk to the middle school children. I believe this is important because I know many adolescents everywhere use cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana, and they don’t realize how serious and dangerous these things really are. It is important that these adolescents get help or social services before it is too late. I also believe that children should be open with their parents. If children aren’t open with their parents, then they should have at least one adult they can talk to and tell their secrets to. “Denial and deception are both part of the disease,” said Ginger Katz.

Thank you, Mrs. Katz, for coming to my school and telling us your horrifying story of your son, Ian. I know how hard it was for you, along with your husband, to tell your story, but you helped save many lives.

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.

I sat down, and Sister Catherine introduced a person from a family help group who you could turn to in case of a crisis or problem with your relatives and friends. Then he introduced a woman named Virginia Katz, who had an amazing, shocking and eye-opening story to tell. Her son Ian, a bright, athletic and popular teenager, was brought into the dark world of substance abuse. He started during his young adolescent years and it finally took his life at the still very young age of 20. Mrs. Katz explained the horrible events of deception and lies she had to endure with her son.

I have a whole new outlook on the substance abuse problem in this country. I believe people should get involved and should act against alcohol and drugs if they see if. I really thank Mrs. Katz for spending her time with us and bringing back such a bad time in her life. I only wish the whole world could hear it. Maybe then there would be a change.

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. I told myself that because of my good grades and friends I would never have to worry about drugs. Then I heard Ian’s story. It truly changed my perspective of everything. Ian seemed just like me because he hung out with a good group of friends and did well in school. He then took a turn for the worst and started hanging out with kids that weren’t so good. This made me think: What if that’s me? Well when you said that Ian had went to become clean during the summer before he died I felt that he was truly going to stay clean. The thing that hit me the hardest and made me tear up was that the night before Ian died he said that he wanted to get help! Why would he go and do more drugs that night? That I guess you will never know. Your presentation changed my perspective on drugs completely. I used to think that they were so far out of reach and that I would never have to worry about them. Ian’s story proved me wrong. He got involved with drugs in school. I wish that I had known Ian because he seemed to be a very great person just like yourself. You are so courageous to be able to stand in front of teens everywhere and give the speeches that you do. Your speech changed my aspect on life and I will forever remember what happened to Ian if I ever comet o a part of my life where someone offers me drugs. Ian would be so proud and amazed that you have done so much in his honor. I hope that you continue to do what you are doing and get the message across to teens everywhere. Most of them were like me and thought that nothing could touch them.not even drugs. That is the complete wrong idea. No one in this world is invincible and the sad thing is that everyone will probably be introduced to drugs sometime in their life. Having seen your presentation I know not to get involved with them.even if my friends are. I am better than any drug on the market and my life is more valuable to me than anything else. The thing is though you will always have an angel in heaven watching to make sure that you are always safe and okay. That angel’s name is Ian.

God Bless,

Meghan Plofkin