North Texas Mother Asks President to Step Up War on Opioids - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

North Texas Mother Asks President to Step Up War on Opioids



    North Texas Mother Asks President to Step Up War on Opioids

    A Flower Mound woman sent a letter to the White House, urging President Trump to step up the nationwide effort against opiate addiction. Kathy O'Keefe is driven by her own family's tragic loss. (Published Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018)

    A Flower Mound woman this week sent a Valentine's Day card to President Donald Trump — not out of love, but as part of a nationwide effort to press the federal government to do more about the opiate problem.

    Kathy O'Keefe sent the heartfelt letter out of a strong belief that more needs to be done about the nation's opioid crisis. Her son, Brett O'Keefe, died in March 2000 from a opioid overdose at age 18.

    "Our families deserve empathy and assistance," she wrote. "We must stop the stigma and the judgment."

    Brett O'Keefe always struggled with mental issues, his mother said. At 14, drug use began, which led to a heroin addiction. Her son's death inspired Kathy O'Keefe to create Winning the Fight, "WTF" for short, to help other families with resources and help for family members dealing with addiction.

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    "I thought, we couldn't save Brett," she says of the decision to form the not-for-profit organization. "We can make a difference here with these kids."

    That led to the reasons why Kathy wrote the letter and sent it to the White House, along with a photo of her son and some information on Winning the Fight. It's part of a nationwide Valentine's Day effort demanding Washington do more to fight opioid addiction.

    "Let's push through and figure out how we get out of this mess, whatever that may be," O'Keefe said. "And the government has to be part of that."

    Once O'Keefe decided to take part in the campaign against opioids, she also realized it shouldn't just be about her son. So she also included photos of 80 other Flower Mound residents — from within a fifteen mile radius of her home — who also lost their addiction battles.

    When the O'Keefes get together for family photos — eldest son Kyle lives in Houston — they always try and work Brett into them. One picture shows them around a poker table with Brett's face on one of the cards.

    Kathy O'Keefe isn't sure if President Trump himself will get her letter and card sent to the White House.

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    "Somebody's going to open this," she said.

    What she does have strong belief in is that for whoever sees it, it will make a difference.

    "We have a lot of families that need help knowing that our child didn't die for nothing," O'Keefe said.

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