ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Drug overdoses have made up for hundreds of emergency calls recently in Rockford with dozens reported dead from the same cause.
“I know there are a lot of people like me, a lot of people like myself.”
Bonnie Falzone and Ann Roberts have known each other since high school after spending years apart. The two recently realized they share a terrible loss.
“There is a gut wrenching time changing moment when your child leaves.”
Both women lost their sons to drug overdoses around the same time. Three years ago, Bonnie’s 25-year-old son Barry was found dead after his 4th OD.
Annie’s son Austin, died after his 6th medical emergency. Both men had mental illnesses and tried almost everything to stop using.
“Five days before his death, he told me he would rather die than do drugs again, but that’s how he felt normal.”
It’s a trend that continuing to grow in Winnebago County over the last decade. Just this year, more than 80 people have died as a result of drugs, up significantly from last year.
“There are a lot of people that say terrible things about drug addicts but in a month or six months, it could be their best friends’ daughter,” said Bonnie Falzon-Capriola.
The mothers are now turning their pain into a mission to help more families grieve and prevent others from getting to that point. The two are working together to form an annual memorial and an online support group to honor those lost to what they call, a disease.
Of the 80 overdose deaths so far this year, 35 were heroin. Something interesting both mothers told me is that their sons didn’t set out to try heroin, they first started with pain pills and advanced.
The mothers are hoping to get rid of the stigma about drug abusers. They say they were good moms and tell us their sons grew up in very well maintained homes with lots of love. They also went through the DARE program.
The mothers started realizing something just wasn’t right when items and money started going missing.
The memorial is next Saturday, August 31st at 11 a.m. at the YMCA’s Log Lodge. The event is completely free and open to everyone. The mom’s ask you to bring a pictures of your loved one. There will also be a flower send off in the river. The goal is to make sure no one is grieving alone.
For more information about the memorial, visit http://www.winnebagomemorial.com.