The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis that shows no boundaries. Nobody knows that better than Dr. Thomas White and his wife Sandra. Thomas is on the Buffalo Bills medical staff as team internist.
"It's the worst feeling in the world when two police officers show up in your office to tell you they found your daughter deceased in her own apartment," Thomas said.
That happened in August. After Hilary White, a 27 year old studying to become a mental health counselor, lost her battle with addiction. After starting to use pills in high school, and trying for years to beat the disease, Hillary died of an apparent heroin overdose.
"Like good parents we tried everything we could," Thomas explained. They went to specialists. Hilary tried inpatient and outpatient treatment. But nothing seemed to help her get better.
"This addiction leaves your kids that you love and kids you know love you powerless," Thomas said. "It's relentless."
So now, Thomas and Sandra are doing everything they can to help fight the opioid crisis and honor their daughter's memory. They work with the group Save the Michaels of the World to raise awareness about the crisis. The White's were on hand Thursday as NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the dismantling of a dangerous drug ring in WNY.
Sandra tears up when she talks about her daughter. She says Hilary was kind, loving and "like a daughter to everyone".
"She wasn't, in our eyes, an addict or a junkie," Sandra said. "She was our daughter. And she was the sweetest kindest soul and I'm so thankful to have had her in our lives for 27 years."
"She was just a person who loved life," Thomas said. "She's a person who had very simple things to get her through. She enjoyed her friends. She enjoyed animals. She enjoyed the simplicity of just being happy."