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Avon family shares addiction story; high school students answer the call to help

After hiding under a cloak of shame for years, the Sammon Family said it was their turn to step out of the darkness, shedding light and hope on others struggling.

AVON, Ohio — In front of a crowd of young faces at Avon High School, the Sammon Family shared their truth.

Jack and Lori's son, 28-year-old Michael, has been battling demons since he was a teen.

“Our lives had been turned inside out and upside down," Lori Sammon recalled. “Addiction was part of our story, and I was going to own it.” 

At his lowest point, while suffocating in the grips of heroin, Michael's parents thought they would lose him.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen. And, the fear of the unknown is probably the worst feeling a parent could feel," Lori said.

“It was a 24/7 nightmare. We never knew when that call was going to come or the police officer was going to knock on the door, saying your son’s not coming home tonight," Jack agreed.

Then, came a lifesaving ultimatum that led Michael to recovery.

“I didn’t care whether I was, you know, alive or dead. And, my mother had given me the option: If I didn’t get in somewhere within a week, she was gonna kick me out, and I had nowhere to go," Michael remembered.

He did go somewhere, though: The Keating Center. It's a rehab, whose doors are open to everyone, no matter their financial status. Director Marty Taft says the service they provide to the community is his life's mission.

“This is not a job. This is a vocation. You cannot consider this a job helping a human being," Marty said.

After hiding under a cloak of shame for years, the Sammon Family said it was their turn to step out of the darkness, shedding light and hope on others struggling.

“We’ve kept this quiet for so many years. We thought it was time to come out and see if we can give back ourselves," Jack said.

“I have to put my pride aside and see what I can do to help the community and make a difference," Lori echoed.

She made a difference after posting her family's story on social media. It got the attention of junior class officers at Avon High, who said they wanted to organize a school-wide drive.

Since the Keating Center isn't a government-sanctioned facility, they rely solely on donations for items its residents need desperately.

“They were reaching out for some materials for the winter, and we jumped on it immediately," Michael Wilson, vice president of Avon's junior class, said.

The students know addiction spares no one, even people their age.

“I feel like everyone knows someone, whether it’s a family member or friend who has been touched by addiction,” Marta Kozey, treasurer of the junior class, said.

“I think a lot of times, a fundraiser or a drive like this doesn’t get as much attention, because the kids don’t think it’s a real problem. I think we wanted to do something like this because we know how real it is, especially at the high school level.” Cael Saxton, president of the junior class said.

They're also hoping the involvement of their classmates could also be a life lesson.

“If they donate, and if they help, and they know that’s a real thing, then maybe they’ll try and stay away from it a little more,” Isabella LaBianco secretary of the junior class said.

The gesture from the kids is forward-thinking and mature. It's something both the Sammon's and the Keating Center won't soon forget.

“To think they adopted our mission, was so incredible," Lori said.

“It makes me want to cry. It really does because you take some high school children that are helping people that they don’t even know," Marty agreed.

Michael is thriving in recovery. He's working full-time, sharing his message, and inspiring others who walked down a similar path to get help. And, of course, forever grateful to the Keating Center.

“Be careful what you do. You never know what choices in the present could affect what’s gonna happen in the future,” Michael warned. “My life has done a complete 180. I’m a totally different person today than I was 10 years ago. I love my life. I can’t envision my life getting better, but it just keeps getting better every year that goes by.” 

The Keating Center is still in need of donations. For a direct link on how to help, click HERE.

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