Hundreds of people attended Dick Gallagher's retirement gala at the Brookfield Country Club in Clarence.
"He's one of those people that makes a difference and he makes a difference with young people. That's why you have such a large gathering of people that admire what he does and appreciate what he's done over the years," said Pat Cauley, teacher at Hamburg Central Schools.
Gallagher founded the Renaissance Campus in 1987. It's a non-profit drug and alcohol treatment facility in West Seneca that services patients as young as
12-years-old. Gallagher says treating teens is becoming more common these days, a big difference than before.
"The fact that the kids are coming in younger and younger...20 years ago we never had young kids in treatment. Now when you look at it we're admitting kids 14,15,16, in the Renaissance Campus and then in the adult facilities their admitting an awful lot of kids 20 to 26," said Dick Gallagher, Executive Director of Alcohol and Drug Dependency Services.
Brian Kruszka knows all to well the dangers drug abuse. He started using drugs when he was 11-years-old and ended up in the renaissance house 10 days after his 18th birthday. He was addicted to heroin.
"I think without Dick Gallagher there would be no Kids Escaping Drugs, there would be no Renaissance House, there would be no adolescent treatment facility in Western New York," said Kruszka.
Gallagher is also the publisher of Western New York Sports Magazine and has helped many students receive college scholarships.
"It's rewarding when a father comes up says thanks you saved our family $100,000. I always believe that the kids have the talent, they just need to be noticed and some take advantage of it,"
Gallagher's own daughter died in her 20's after a battle with alcoholism, well after he started his work with the treatment program. He tells us although he is retiring, he'll continue his work by volunteering with at-risk teens and adults.