One year ago, Becky Barnell's 23-year-old son, Colton Lasker, died from heart failure following a 10-year battle with his opioid addiction.
Her son's death was a call to action for Barnell who feels too many people still do not know about the warning signs of addiction or where to turn for help.
"I was surprised to learn what is available but I never knew it existed until after Colton died," said Barnell.
The Hamburg mother started a movement called "Colton's Journey to Liberation." Over the past year, Barnell has worked tirelessly to organize a special event that will help families learn more about substance addiction and let them know where to turn for help.
"People are scared. They are scared that if they come out and say their son or daughter are having this issue that they will be stigmatized as some terrible person or some horrible thing," explained Barnell.
On Friday June 23rd, marking the one year anniversary of Colton's death, the first annual Colton's Cause Memorial Benefit will be held at St. James United Church of Christ at 76 Main Street in the Village of Hamburg. The event starts at 6 p.m.
There will be bands, food and raffles to help raise money for organ donation (UNYTS). Several groups that deal with addiction, such as WNY United, will also be on hand.
It is meant to attract families and young people dealing with addiction to let them know that they are not alone.
"If we can start learning just one fundamental thing it is that this secret can't be kept because people will die. It is a secret that is killing people," said Barnell
"I think the thing with Colton, that example, means it could happen to anyone because Colton was the sweetest and the most unassuming kid," added Mike Gantzer, Colton's former guitar teacher and a member of the local band "Aqueous"
More information about the event and tickets is available here: http://www.cjtol.com/purchase-tickets.html