Hour Photo/Alex von Kleydorff  Carolina Martinez and best friend Victoria Silva-Meza enjoy pizza during the Courage to Speak Family Night Program at West Rocks School

NORWALK — Join Ginger Katz and The Courage to Speak for their 12th annual “Empowering the Youth to be Drug Free Family Night” event to help those with drug addiction on Monday, March 14. This is the Courage to Speak Foundation’s 20th year in its mission to spread awareness and help save lives.

“Going to rehab is five to ten times more expensive than a college education,” said Ginger Katz, founder of the Courage to Speak Foundation. “Even if your kids don’t do drugs, we need to get the word out to help prevent and help those with drug addictions. The Courage to Speak Foundation has students invite their parents to the event to celebrate the work of drug prevention.”

The Courage to Speak Foundation’s event will be held at West Rocks Middle School at 5:45 p.m. and will feature appearances by Mayor Harry Rilling, Chief of Police Thomas Kulhawik and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steven Adamwoski — with Sen. Bob Duff as the event’s emcee.

The event will start with a complimentary dinner before the program begins at 6:30 p.m. Katz will be giving a 25 minute presentation on her first hand experiences with loved ones with drug addiction and reading a letter from the Office of National Drug Control Policy about drug addiction and treatment.

Seventeen to 20 students of all ages from local Norwalk Public Schools will be reading letters and showing the posters they have created about drug addiction.

An honoring of the Volunteer of the Year will be held, an award given to the person who has done the most to help the community with drug addiction and prevention.

“Last year we had 450 people, and I hope for this year we get standing-room only,” said Katz. “It really does mean a lot to us and I know it’s helped others.”

Katz lost her son, Ian Eaccarino, to heroin addiction 20 years ago and it has become the driving force behind her ongoing battle to spread the word and help others get the help they need.

Katz has written a book about her son and their dog Sunny, called “Sunny’s Story.” It’s a story told from the perspective of Sunny and tells of how he lost his best friend to drug addiction. “Sunny’s Story” is a tool used to help families talk openly about drug addiction and about how it can be prevented.

The courage to Speak Foundation has been teaching teachers all over the country about their drug prevention curriculum that is currently being used in 25 states.

Cablevision will be one of the many sponsors and will be filming the event. Norwalk Pizza & Pasta and Gway Marketing are also Gold level sponsors.