Sunny’s Story

Sunny's Story

 Purchase Sunny's Story

Sunny's Story, written by Ginger Katz is a drug prevention book for all ages. It is a compelling story for children, teenagers, parents, grandparents, teachers and more. Sunny’s Story tells of joyful times and sad times, and of how a dog’s best friend was needlessly lost to drug abuse.

View Handout

It is narrated through the eyes, ears and mind of Sunny, the family beagle. The story tells the ups and downs of life with his young master Ian, beginning with their meeting at an animal shelter, and ending with a futile effort to ward off disaster

Sunny's Story is read at many dinner tables across the country, in schools, libraries, as part of Courage to Speak® Drug Prevention Curricula for elementary, middle and high school students as well as a standalone book for children of all ages, parents, grandparents, teachers and professionals in the field of treatment and prevention.

Request More Program Info

Press Articles 2012 – 2015


Son’s death made her an activist – Norwalk woman tells of drug use tragedy

By Ruth Epstein

November 5, 2015

Ruth Epstein Republican-American Virginia ‘Ginger’ Katz speaks to students at Sharon Center School during a
recent assembly. Katz, whose son, Ian Eaccarino, died from a drug overdose at age 20, is the creator of the
Courage to Speak Foundation, formed to try to prevent families from going through a similar tragedy.

SHARON — Virginia “Ginger” Katz’s son died young, but his story is being used to save others.
The Norwalk resident was at Sharon Center School last week to talk to parents one evening, and sixth- to eighth-grade students the next day, about her Courage to Speak Foundation.


In Heroin Crisis, White Families Seek Gentler War on Drugs

By Katharine Q. Seelye

October. 30, 2015


Ginger Katz and her husband, Larry Katz, of Norwalk, Conn., lost their 20-year-old son Ian to a heroin overdose in
1996. She then started a foundation to try to end the silence surrounding addiction. Credit Katherine Taylor for The
New York Times

Ginger Katz of Norwalk, Conn., has equally lofty goals. After her son, Ian, 20, died of a heroin overdose in 1996, she founded the Courage to Speak Foundation to try to end the silence surrounding addiction, and she has developed a drug-prevention curriculum for schools and written a book, “Sunny’s Story,” told through the eyes of Ian’s dog.   She is still traveling around the country speaking to students and their parents.


Mrs. Katz’s son, Ian, at 17.


Courage to Speak’s Drug Prevention Night Moves Audience to Tears

By Katherine Du

October 12, 2015


Demetri Dassouras and a friend at the Courage to Speak Dinner. Credit: Katherine Du.

The 11th Annual Courage To Speak Empowering Youth to Be Drug Free Family Night, Ginger Katz’s brainchild, took place on March 16, 2015 at West Rocks Middle School in Norwalk, Connecticut.



Burlington High School parents attend ‘Courage to Speak’ drug addiction prevention presentation

By Chris Warren

September 25, 2015

BURLINGTON – When Ginger Katz took the stage at Burlington High School Sept. 17, she started by saying her son Ian died Sept. 10, 1996, due to an overdose of heroin mixed with Valium. He was 20 years old. To save face, Ian’s doctor suggested Katz tell people her son had died of an aneurysm. Instead, she told the truth.


Drug Prevention Night Moves Audience To Tears

By: Katherine Du

March 17, 2015

The 11th Annual Courage To Speak Empowering Youth To Be Drug Free Family Night, the brainchild of Ginger Katz, took place on March 16 at West Rocks Middle School in Norwalk.

After her son Ian passed away in 1996 of a heroin overdose, Ginger had the choice to tell the world that he had died of a heart attack or an aneurism. She, instead, had a self-described “vision to speak out” that drove her not only to pen a drug prevention book titled Sunny’s Story, but also to found the Courage to Speak Foundation, which developed drug prevention education curricula for elementary, middle, and high schools around the nation. Her program has reached 16,800 students in Norwalk alone so far.


Norwalk Takes Anti-Drug Stance At Courage To Speak Night

by Casey Donahue

March 17, 2015

NORWALK, Conn. — The Norwalk community gathered at West Rocks Middle School on Monday night for the annual Courage to Speak Empowering Youth To Be Drug Free Family Night.

The night was hosted by the Courage to Speak Foundation, whose founder, Norwalk mom Ginger Katz, lost her son Ian to a drug overdose in 1996. Since her son’s death she has worked to develop drug prevention curriculum and programs for schools to teach kids about the dangers of drugs and some refusal techniques. Her book, “Sunny’s Story” tells her family’s tale through the eyes of their pet beagle and has become regular reading in Norwalk schools and other districts around the state.



IN PHOTOS: Courage To Speak Family Night Program At West Rocks School

November 2014

Click here to see photos.


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.
Click here to read more.

Posted: Saturday, August 9, 2014
By BOB BIRGE
Hour Correspondent
NORWALK — Many of the runners who participated in Saturday’s 16th annual Ian Eaccarino Memorial Race at Calf Pasture Beach did so because they feel a personal connection to Ginger and Larry Katz.
The nine-mile race, the fourth of five progressively longer races in the Norwalk Lightfoot Summer Series, is run in memory of the Katz’s son who died from a drug overdose in 1996 at the age of 20.
Click here to read more.


By: GREENWICHFREEPRESS | July 16, 2014
A recent roundtable discussion on the heroin epidemic and Narcan, an antidote for heroin overdoses, was organized by Greenwich firefighter, Kevin Coyner.
The July 10 panel included Courage to Speak Foundation‘s Ginger Katz who visited Greenwich High School this spring, sharing the story of her son Ian’s death at 22 from a heroin overdose.
Though in the 70s heroin was commonly associated with back alleys and the most alienated members of society, the drug has made a comeback and this time it does not discriminate in terms of race, socio-economic status or age, claiming lives in Greenwich as well as dozens of other Connecticut towns.
Click here to read more.

May 20, 2014

It’s Relevant: Young Minds Learn the Dangers of Drugs


May 19, 2014
NORWALK, Conn. — Two schools in Norwalk will host talks by Ginger Katz, the CEO and founder of The Courage to Speak Foundation.
Katz, author of “Sunny’s Story,” will present “From Marijuana to Opiates” on May 19 at Briggs High School, “The Courage to Make Healthy Decisions,” on May 20 at Brookside Elementary School in Norwalk and “The Courage to Make Healthy Decisions based on Sunny’s Story,” on May 21 at Madison Elementary in Bridgeport.
Click here to read more.

May 16, 2014
NORWALK, Conn. – Ginger Katz, CEO and founder of The Courage to Speak Foundation, will speak at two Norwalk schools on the dangers of drug use and about how to make healthy decisions.
Katz, who is also the author of “Sunny’s Story,” will present “From Marijuana to Opiates,” on May 19 at Briggs High School in Norwalk and “The Courage to Make Healthy Decisions,” on May 20 at Brookside Elementary in Norwalk. The talks are based on her book, which is about her son Ian’s struggles narrated from the perspective of the family beagle.
Click here to read more.

March 19, 2014

It’s Relevant: Drug Free Vows Ring Through Norwalk


 
Courage to Speak Empowering Youth to be Drug Free Family Night

Posted on April 11, 2014 By Paul Schott
Ginger Katz knows how to make a point to a large group.
That ability has come from a deep-seated passion and extensive public-speaking experience. But that career has tragic origins: Her 20-year-old son, Ian Eaccarino, died from an accidental heroin overdose in September 1996.
The same year, Katz and her husband, Larry, founded The Courage to Speak Foundation, which educates youth about drugs and encourages parents to speak with their children about drugs’ dangers. She has since delivered more than 1,000 presentations to hundreds of thousands of people, including students, teachers, parents, law-enforcement officials and clergy members.
Click here to read more.

Ginger Katz visited Greenwich High School on Thursday to talk about her son, Ian. About 200 students filed into the auditorium and Wellness Teacher Kathy Steiner introduced Katz, who described her son as having had a big heart, which she attributed partly to his sister, Candace, who has Downs Syndrome.
Click here to read more.

By: Kwegyirba Croffie
Norwalk, CT | Added on March 19, 2014 At 11:53 AM
“In honor of Ian, I promise never to try, take or abuse drugs and to encourage others to do the same”
“I am now positive that I will never do drugs for any reason,” said Robbie, a seventh grader at Roton Middle School.
Click here to read more.

The 10th Annual Courage To Speak Empowering Youth to Be Drug Free Family Night will take place on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 5:15 p.m., at West Rocks Middle School in Norwalk (Snow date:  March 20).  All are invited to the event, which will bring students, parents, educators, school and government officials, business and community leaders together to affirm their commitment to keep our children safe from drugs and other risky behaviors.
Click here to read more.

By: Kwegyirba Croffie
Norwalk, CT | Added on February 27, 2014 At 02:18 PM
The health curriculum at West Rock Middle School is taking a different approach to keeping kids drug-free.
By combining traditional warnings with personal pledges to stay drug-free, the Courage to Speak Foundation curriculum is making kids active participants.
Click here to read more.

Written by Leslie Yager
March 19, 2014
Along with their parents, children as young as grade school and middle school attended the 10th annual Courage to Speak family night on Tuesday at West Rocks Middle School to talk about drugs.
“It was sad and emotional,” West Rocks 7th grader Jason Iverson said, describing Ginger Katz’s visit to his school to talk about her 20-year-old son’s death in 1996 of a heroin overdose.
Click here to read more.

By Matt Coyne
HourStaff writer
October 2013
NORWALK – The Courage to Speak Foundation is best known as an anti-drug organization, running workshops and programs to try to and keep children off drugs. While the foundation’s upcoming Courage to Speak – Courageous Parenting 101 classes will cover that, parents who take the three classes will leave with something more.

Lightfoot runners race in memory of Eaccarino

Andy Hutchison
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Norwalk’s Samuel Valencia, left, sprints to the finish of the 15th Annual Ian James
Eaccarino Memorial -Mile Race. Also pictured is Wilton’s Steven Curceau. Valencia was
67th in a time of 1:20:39 and Curceau was 68th in 1:20:41. Contributed Photo / Andy Hutchis
Completing a 9-mile run is quite a feat, but participants in the 15th Annual Ian James Eaccarino Memorial 9-Mile Race last Saturday were running to accomplish more than fast times, personal bests or an age category award.
The race, which started and finished at Calf Pasture Beach, is part of the Lightfoot Running Club’s summer series, and is held in honor of Eaccarino, who died as a result of a drug overdose at the age of 20 back in 1996.
Click here to read more.

15th Annual Norwalk Memorial Race To Promote Healthy Living

by Robert Berczuk
July 24, 2013
Larry and Ginger Katz have organized the Ian James Eaccarino Memorial 9-Mile Race in honor of their late son.
Photo Credit: Joseph Cole
NORWALK, Conn. — The 15th Annual Ian James Eaccarino Memorial 9-Mile Race will take place at 8 a.m. Saturday at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk.
The event is promoted by the Lightfoot Running Club and The Courage to Speak Foundation.
Click here to read more.

As one of the original members of the Lightfoot Running Club, Larry Katz has seen the Norwalk summer racing series increase in popularity over the years.
Now 73 years old, Katz ran in the New York City Marathon in 1983 and still volunteers at all the Norwalk races.
Click here to read more.

By LESLIE LAKE
Saturday, June 8, 2013

Ginger Katz and Bill O’Reilly after her interview

NORWALK — Viewers of the Fox News Channel O’Reilly Factor saw a familiar face on Friday night, June 7th at 8:45pm as local anti-drug crusader Ginger Katz will join Bill O’Reilly to address the topic of reducing sentencing guidelines for drug dealers.

“My appearance on the show was spurred on by a letter sent by some celebrities to President Obama and Bill’s reaction to the letter,” Katz said. “A producer from Bill’s show called me to speak about loosening laws regarding sentencing for drug dealers.”

Click here to read more

Friday May 17, 2013
 
Ginger Katz, CEO and Founder of The Courage to Speak Foundation and author of Sunny’s Story, announced The 15th Annual Ian James Eaccarino Memorial 9-Mile Race, which will take place on Saturday, July 27th at 8:00 am at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, and is promoted by the Lightfoot Running Club.
Click here to read more
By LESLIE LAKE 
Thursday, May 2, 2013

Ginger Katz and Bill O’Reilly after her interview

NORWALK — Viewers of the Fox News Channel O’Reilly Factor will see a familiar face on Friday night May 3rd at 8pm and 11pm as local anti-drug crusader Ginger Katz will join Bill O’Reilly to address the topic of reducing sentencing guidelines for drug dealers.

Click here to read more

By Andrea Bulfinch
abulfinch@fosters.com
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Courtesy photo Ginger Katz talks to seventh- and eighth-grade
Dover Middle School students on Monday about the death of
her 16-year-old son, Ian, from a drug overdose. She shares his
story in a book titled “Sunny’s Story,” which tells Ian’s story
as seen through the eyes of the family dog.
DOVER — If one student can be saved from a fatal drug overdose, the work and time put into sharing her son’s story will have been worth it for Ginger Katz, author of “Sunny’s Story.”
The book tells the tale of her son Ian’s death due to a drug overdose through the eyes of the family beagle. Dover Middle School students have each read the book and on Monday, heard from Katz herself as she spoke during two assemblies at the school with her husband Larry Katz, Ian’s stepfather.
Click here to read more

By Joyce Pellino
Crane GateHouse News Service
March 30, 2013
Ginger Katz founded the Courage to Speak in 1996, just months after her 20-year-old son Ian James Eaccarino died of an accidental drug overdose. Katz is speaking at the Stony Brook Middle School, 9 Farmer Way, Tuesday, April 2 at 7 p.m. The Courage To Speak Foundation develops drug prevention curricula for elementary, middle and high school students as well as for parents through Courage to Speak — Courageous Parenting 101. Katz speaks to parents and students of all ages. More information can be found at couragetospeak.org. The event is sponsored by Lowell General Hospital and the Westford Parent Connection.

Click here to read more


By Andrew Brophy
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Andrea Mandujano, a fourth grade student at Brookside Elementary School, reads a letter to Ginger Katz, CEO
and founder of The Courage to SpeakAE Foundation, during the 9th Annual Courage to Speak Empowering
Youth to Be Drug-Free Family Night at West Rocks Middle School in Norwalk on Tuesday, March 19, 2013.
Photo: Amy Mortensen
In death, Ian Eaccarino is helping others fight against the addiction he couldn’t overcome in life. Hundreds of Norwalk middle-school students made a pledge this year not to use drugs after hearing of Eaccarino’s battle with drug addiction and accidental death from a heroin overdose at the age of 20.
Click here to read more

 March 19, 2013 
By: Mike Peal

Students from across Norwalk vowed a drug free future Tuesday night at West Rocks middle school.

Tuesday marked the Courage to Speak Foundation’s ninth annual drug free family night, which aims to do exactly what it sounds like:  encourage families to stay drug free together.

Click here to read more


March 08, 2013 
By: Mike Peal
Ginger Katz knows a little bit about a drug free community.  She’s been advocating for one for 16 years — ever since her own son, Ian, died of a drug overdose.
“I wasn’t ashamed of my son,” Katz says.  “He was a good kid but he made an unhealthy decision to use drugs.  And I was not going to lie about him.”

Click here to read more.


February 18, 2013
By Tyler Woods
Ginger Katz, founder of The Courage to Speak 
Foundation, shared the story of her son’s  drug
use with parents gathered at New Canaan High 
School on Feb. 6, 2013. Katz warned parents
that low-level teen drug use could develop into
addiction and dangerous consequences. 
Photo: Tyler Woods
 
Her son died after snorting heroin in the basement of her house nearly 17 years ago, and Ginger Katz has been sharing her story with children, teens and parents ever since.
Katz, the founder of the Courage to Speak Foundation, a Norwalk-based 501(c)(3), spoke to the public at New Canaan High School on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
Earlier in the week she had made the presentation to ninth- and 10th-graders in one session and 11th- and 12th-graders in another. The foundation works to engage home, school and community in a public health endeavor to keep children safe from drugs.

Click here to read more.


February 5, 2013

Ginger Katz, CEO and founder of the Courage to Speak
Foundation,  with a photo of her late son Ian, will be in
New Canaan on Wednesday, Feb. 6
Children will likely be offered alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, often many times, starting in middle school and continuing through high school. What can you do about this?

Learn about substance abuse and gain the knowledge and skills needed to keep your children safe at a town-wide presentation by Ginger Katz, CEO and founder of the Courage to Speak Foundation, on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 7:30 p.m. at New Canaan High School.

Click here to read more.


January 8, 2013 

Raising a teen is no easy task, and for grandparents raising teenagers the thought of broaching tough subjects like alcohol use and bullying may be even more daunting. Community Renewal Team’s Generations Campus that houses grandparents raising grandchildren is all too familiar with these struggles and is about to kick off a lecture and workshop series to help foster beneficial intergenerational communication strategies.

Click here to read more.

September 26, 2012 

State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-Norwalk) spent a lot of time with her summer interns, and she talked to the young people extensively about what they thought of the new Connecticut drug laws–the one decriminalizing possession and personal use of less than one half ounce of marijuana, and the one approving the medical use of the marijuana.

“They are very confused now. They don’t really understand what’s OK to do and what isn’t, and really what is legal and what is not,” Laveille told the people gathered at the opening of the Courage to Speak Foundation Family Resource Center in Norwalk last Friday morning. “And whether having anything to do with it at all is maybe OK.

Click here to read more.

September 2012 

The Courage to Speak Foundation cut the ribbon on its Family Resource Center Friday morning.

The foundation, started by Ginger and Larry Katz after their son, Ian Eccarino, died of an accidental drug overdose in 1996, has made anti-drug presentations at schools across the country, but the resource center will allow students and parents increase access to the foundation’s materials.

Click here to read more.

July 30, 2012
NORWALK — There was plenty of competition at the 14th annual Ian James Eaccarino Memorial 9-mile race on Saturday at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk as 164 runners officially crossed the finish line.

At the head of the pack were a pair of runners from New Haven as 20-year-old Colin Lu clocked in at 59 minutes and five seconds to place first and 31-year-old Joe Lauer finished a close second, just four seconds behind him.

Click here to read more.

July 28, 2012 
By STEVE KOBAK
hour staff writer, Saturday, July 28, 2012
NORWALK — Norwalker Julie Heaphy said it took her a while to warm up on a breezy Saturday morning at Calf Pasture Beach but when she did, she wound up being the first woman to cross the finish line at the 14th annual Ian James Eaccarino Memorial 9-Mile Race.
Click here to read more.

July 21, 2012
“Drug Prevention Race to Save Lives” 
The 14th Annual Ian James Eaccarino 9 Mile Race

June 27, 2012
by Christine Loughran
Drug addiction is not a character flaw, said Ginger Katz, the founder of the Courage to Speak Foundation. It’s a disease that requires professional help, just like any other.
“The problem doesn’t seem to be going away,” she said. “I’ve always said that if you don’t talk about a problem, you won’t be able to find a solution.”
Katz helped launch the Norwalk-based organization in 1996 after she lost her 20-year-old son Ian to a drug overdose. Her goal, which has now reached a national level, is to prevent her family’s tragedy from happening to others by raising awareness through educational programs as well as presentations and word of mouth.
Click here to read more.

June 20, 2012

Solis honored by Patriots for paying it forward

Sixteen volunteers from across New England, including Luis Solis of Norwalk, were honored as Myra Kraft Community MVPs by the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation in a ceremony at Gillette Stadium last week.
The Community MVP Awards, a program for the past 12 years, honor individuals who exemplify leadership, dedication and a commitment to improving their communities through volunteerism.
Click here to read more.

June 15, 2012

Norwalk’s Solis honored by Kraft family foundation

By CHRIS BOSAK
Hour Staff Writer
NORWALK — Luis Solis, owner of Norwalk Pizza and Pasta and Don Carmelo’s Mexican Grill, recently received a Myra Kraft Community MVP Award, which honors individuals who exemplify leadership, dedication and a commitment to improving their communities through volunteerism.
Solis volunteers with The Courage to Speak Foundation, which will receive a $2,500 grant from the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation as a result of Solis’s honor. Solis, along with the Courage to Speak Foundation, were honored at the Myra Kraft Community MVP Award Luncheon held this week at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, pro football Hall of Famer Andre Tippett, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and tight end Rob Gronkowski were on hand to congratulate the winners.
Click here to read more.

May 23, 2012
by Eleanor Joyce
As Ginger Katz spoke, pictures of her son, Ian, playing sports and attending his prom were projected onto a screen May 9 at Bacon Academy.
Katz said Ian “was captain of the soccer team, and girls just wouldn’t leave him alone.”
Ian, a college student, died in 1996 from an accidental drug overdose at home in Norwalk at the age of 20.
Click here to read more.

May 2012
by Ryan Blessing
Ginger Katz, CEO and Founder of The Courage To Speak Foundation. Inc., will be giving the Courage to Speak Presentation, a dynamic, riveting and thought-provoking drug prevention presentation, at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, at Bacon Academy.
Click here to read more.

March 29, 2012
Events will be held at high school and middle school during school day for students, and another event will be in the evening for parents.
By Caitlin Marquis

Ledyard Youth Services has announced that Ginger Katz, founder of The Courage to Speak Foundation, will visit Ledyard on Monday, April 2.

Katz, whose son died due to a drug overdose, now speaks to students and parents about the importance of open communication regarding drugs and alcohol.

Click here to read more.

March 21, 2012

Students find courage to speak out against drugs

Since finding her 20-year-old son, Ian Eaccarino, dead in his bed from a heroin overdose on Sept. 10, 1996, motivational speaker, author and anti-drug advocate Virginia “Ginger” Katz of Norwalk has told her story thousands of times to parents, children, educators, religious leaders and law-enforcement officials.

The countless retelling hasn’t dulled the pain, but it hasn’t paralyzed her with inaction either.
Click here to read more.

Ian James Eaccarino

Ian James Eaccarino
Donation

Recent Tweets

Stay in the Know!

  • Subscribe now to our newsletter and get the latest news and updates about our youth substance abuse curriculum and programs in your inbox.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.