June 13, 2015.
Becky Savage’s two oldest sons, Nick and Jack, were celebrating at high school graduation parties.
The boys came home about 12:30 a.m. and checked in with their mom, who had been waiting up. The next morning, when Becky was picking up laundry in Jack’s room, she noticed that he wasn’t stirring as she tried to wake him.
”He was unresponsive. I called 911, and I remember hollering for Nick, for him to come up, and how he never came.”
Nick, her eldest son, was downstairs sleeping in the basement with friends. When the first responders arrived, the boys were pronounced dead.
Becky Savage, from northern Indiana, lost both Nick and Jack, two of her four sons, to an opioid overdose the next day on June 14, 2015.
After she called 911 that morning, one of the first responders tried to resuscitate Jack. The other one of them went to the basement, where Nick was sleeping.
“I had no idea at that point what they were doing in our basement. And then I remember one of them coming up and asking for a coroner. That’s the last thing that I remember that day,” said Becky.
Tragically, Jack and Nick had accidentally overdosed on hydrocodone and alcohol. Someone had given out the prescription pills and supplied alcohol at a graduation party.
According to Becky, the boys had never been in trouble with drinking or drugs. They just happened to make “a bad choice that unfortunately cost them their lives.”
For a year, the Savage family – Becky, husband Mike and two younger sons, Justin and Matthew – worked on healing and picking up the pieces.
Becky didn’t want to talk publicly about what happened with Jack and Nick that night — until she was invited to talk about underage drinking at a local event.
”I had never spoken publicly before, and I was assured there would be maybe between 15 and 20 people there. So, I agreed to do it, and over 200 people showed up. It was just overwhelming”, Becky said.
That event helped Savage realize the impact that Jack and Nick’s story could have on others.
The Savage family decided to turn their tragedy into a positive force and started the 525 Foundation, named after the two boys’ hockey uniform numbers: Jack’s 5 and Nick’s 25.
Meantime, more and more speaking requests came in.
Becky now estimates that she has spoken in front of 23,000 students. She was also invited to testify before a US Senate committee dealing with the opioid crisis.
The determined mother hopes to persuade lawmakers to create stricter laws around prescription drugs. She also wants to spread awareness about the abuse of medication.
“We’ve talked to our kids about drinking, but we had never talked to them about prescription drugs, because it wasn’t even on our radar.”
And the Savage family and the 525 foundation is making a difference, in many ways. For example, they are trying to help clean up their own community.
The foundations teamed up with local law enforcement to hold pill drop-offs, a place where people can safely dispose unused prescription drugs to prevent them from getting into the wrong hands.
Three of these events helped collect over 1,500 pounds of pills. Becky hopes to install permanent pill drop-off boxes across her community soon.
In the meantime, the Savage family continues to spread their message and they are finding that they are not alone.
“By me telling their story, they’re still able to make a difference in the lives of others. There can’t be a better goal than that.”
Deaths due to drug overdose are a major public health issue in our country.
Between 1999 and 2016, 8,986 children and adolescents died from prescription and illicit opioid poisonings, according to research published on JAMA network.
That is frightening numbers that we can never accept.
Please help Becky to keep her sons’ memories alive by sharing her story and to raise awareness about the dangers of alcohol and prescription drug misuse and abuse.
We can’t do it without your help!