Todd McPhail

Submitted by: Dan McPhail
Born: 1975
Died: 2012
My Tribute: In loving memory of my first son Todd McPhail, a kind, loving, funny, warm hearted spontaneous and briliant MRI techician in 5 of the nation’s best hospitals and the best son a man could have. He had Bi Polar and chose to treat it with alchohol and opiates instead of a doctor “doctors will kill you dad” he’d often say. He mixed Zanax, Roxycontin and vodka at midnight November 19, 2012 and 4 hours later died i pray peacefully in his sleep, ending my life as i knew it as well. It’s been l3 months and i still can’t believe he’s gone. I know he would want me to know he’s sorry for the pain he’s caused everyone from his mom and i to the 5 year old little girl Savannah who will barely remember how kind and loving a dad Todd was–to his only brother Troy whose grief is beyond belief. Psychologists say the sudden death of any child is the most traumatic event that can happen to a human being, and it almost killed me. And as the people in this organization know, when its accidental overdose the guilt and anger are beyond description, but i’ve forgiven Todd and i refuse to feel guilty. Two astounding coincidences: twice in the month before he died, Todd said to me “dad, you’ve got to get TROY help or he’ll die of addiction”. And FOUR HOURS before he died the VERY LAST WORDS he said to us were “i hate Heather, my little girls mom–she won’t let me see Savannah; sometimes i wish she were dead” and i swear to god my wife’s last words to him 6 hours before his death were “don’t say that Todd–God might take you for saying that”. I think what hurts worse is not being to say goodbye, that i’ll take care of everyone you loved todd; that i forgive you; that since mom almost died with you in childbirth every day of your 37 years was a bonus; that you were the most fun, enjoyable, loveable, spontaneous affectionate and caring person i ever knew; that you were everything i wanted in a son; that’s what hurts the worst. But as your mom said “you know Dan, he doesn’t know he’s gone; to him it’s midnight Nov. 18 2012 and always will be. He’s in no pain and no one can hurt him. And he’d have never done it on purpose; he just forgot how many he took”. And the only reason i don’t feel worse is that he was not an unhappy person; always a smile, always up; just the temper flareup bi polar folks have but rarely depressed. Such as waste of a beautiful man. Todd was only 5 feet tall but was a big man to me—a compassionate medical tech that patients and doctors loved; a terrific brother and uncle; as close to perfect as a young man can be. So, since i spent 25 years as a broadcaster and run a mobile dj service, i’m joining the Lapeer Chapter of this organization to speak to young men and women in hopes i can save one. Biggest irony: three years before his death ANOTHER of Todd’s friend’s od’d on Oxy and alcohol and at his FUNERAL Todd said “you don’t have to worry dad–that’d never happen to me–i’m too smart for that”. PS: gOD BLESS this organization–no other support group cares or understands. My son Troy and i discovered Todd’s body at 8 am 4 hours after his death and if you want to know pain my friend that is it. I wouldn’t wish the pain of losing someone healthy to accidental OD on my worst enemy. And to the bastards at Purdue Pharmaceutical who continue to make the poison called Roxy and Oxy contin, may you burn in hell. Dan McPhail, Burton MI

Dean DiGilio

Submitted by: Dorthi DiGilio
Born: 1991
Died: 2013
My Tribute: Dean is missed so immensely by so many people. We miss Dean’s strength, humor, caring, and just how he lit up a room with the sparkle in his eye. Dean lived life fearlessly. He battled Cystic Fibrosis, depression, and addiction with everything he had. Ultimately Dean took his own life because he saw no other way to end the battle. Life with out Dean is something that I, his mom, will never adjust to. I somehow have the strength and courage to go on each day because I know that is what Dean would expect from me. I know Dean is guiding me everyday. Dean was extremely talented mechanically and loved riding and working on his motorcycle. He also was a high achiever in mixed martial arts. Dean loved his family very much and his dogs Buster and Nala.

Kimberly Schneider

Submitted by: Jeanette Schneider
Born: 1973
Died: 2011
My Tribute: Kim was a beautiful, kind, gentle soul who struggled with mental illness and addictions. Combining my efforts with others who have lost their children to problems such as these, I hope to make a difference and perhaps save other children who are struggling in life with the same issues.

Benjamin John Burke

Submitted by: Theresa Burke
Born: 1984
Died: 2012
My Tribute: Ben was my son–a shy, humble young man who battled heroin addiction bravely and openly.
He did everything humanly and spiritually possible to get well, but the disease took him after a 5 year battle. His family does not believe his overdose was an accident. He gave up. He was exhausted and depleted and had just completed 6 months clean. He had restored everything that mattered most…his friends, family and his God. Rather than risk losing everything again, he killed his addict with his favorite weapon–heroin. Ben never had a choice after the first time he tried it. His words: “My brain is wired to kill me.” Heroin took his body but not his soul. May God forgive anyone who says that a heroin addict deserves to die. Would you say that to a person fighting cancer? It is the same. Ben didn’t want to die, but dying became a better choice than living one more day as a heroin addict. Thats how much fun he was having! I miss my son so much, the grief still takes me down like a grenade when I least expect it. I admire Ben’s courage and faith. On the morning he died he went to church and to his favorite AA meeting, he had been praying the rosary for months and had gone to confession. He called us to say goodbye, but we didn’t realize what he was preparing to do. He came home to die while we were on vacation. He died on Palm Sunday 2012. His body laid on my kitchen floor for four days before it was found. We continue to heal as we realize that all of our prayers were answered, just not in the way that we thought! Ben is clean and whole and finally free.

Joshua R. Giroux

Submitted by: Devin Giroux
Born: 1989
Died: 2013
My Tribute: Josh was my beautiful, kind, funny, loving little brother. He was clean for 8 months when he decided to use one last time. The loss of him is unbearable to me, the rest of my family & his friends. He left behind his parents, 3 siblings, a girlfriend, a dog that loved him, friends who became family, and 4 loving grandparents. At his wake and funeral, people I had never even seen before were coming up to me telling me stories about things Josh had done for them. I hold on to those memories. Because although he was an addict, he was a good person. You have to be born like that. The world is forever lacking now that he is gone.


Submitted by: Cynthia
Born: 1984
Died: 2013
My Tribute: My beautiful son Andrew.
His life ended on 12/24/13, a heroine overdose.
He was a joy and a blessing. He made everyone laugh – he was a good hearted man, caring and compassionate
To know him was to love him.


Submitted by: Auntie Karen
Born: 1995
Died: 2013
My Tribute: My niece Cassie died from an overdose of heroin, far away from home, at the apartment of a misguided relative. We will never know the truth of how this happened or the violence she suffered before her passing. Praying for peace for my sister, Cassie’s mother, as well as for all of you.

Ben J Podein

Submitted by: Sue Podein
Born: 1987
Died: 2013
My Tribute: My son Ben passed away this past labor day weekend at our home alone from an over dose of heroin. Ben was great father to his 2 year old son and was trying to over come his addition and went through rehab twice (before he even knew he had a child). He also had a job that he liked very much, his co-workers said they were all very close and like family to each other. Unfortunately, he just got pulled back to as he called it the green eyed monster. We miss him everyday, we cry a lot and are trying to make sense out of a senseless situation. Ben wrote a lot about this drug and the control it had over him. The devil took him out but God took him home.

Zachary Dennis Gys

Submitted by: Louise
Born: 1989
Died: 2013
My Tribute: My beloved son, Zachary died on July 19, 2013 from a methadone overdose. He was trying to get his life in order and had experienced 60 days of recovery prior to his passing. He was a wonderful child with a great sense of humor and a kind word for everyone. A gifted athlete, with a passion for hockey, he hurt his ankle in a high school game and a friend gave him a Percocet to ease the pain. He was immediately hooked. He graduated from Percocet to Oxy to Heroin. He tried many times to fight his addiction but more often than not would succumb to the monster within. Although I know that addiction is a terminal disease, I truly thought he would overcome it….he was such fierce and competitive warrior. I can still hear his voice though it’s only a whisper now. This pain in my heart and soul will never go away. I miss him each and every day. I will continue to fight for those who can’t and hope that I live to see the day when addiction is treated as a disease and not a moral failure. Rest in peace, my sweet prince.

Adam Chamberlin Parker

Submitted by: Kathy Parker
Born: 1991
Died: 2013
My Tribute: Adam Chamberlin Parker
June 4, 1991 – July 1, 2013

Adam was an inspiration to many, his mom included.  He was very loving, and had a soft spot in his heart for helping the elderly and enjoyed being in the moment spending time with children.  He had this BIG grin of a smile that just lit up the room when he walked in, a great sense of humor and always made others laugh, and just feel better once they were with him.  He had this very agile, strategic ability that came natural to him, both in athletic sports and in mental challenges like chess or poker.  He will always be remembered for his empathy for the underdog, always took care for the ones left behind.  Adam will be greatly missed by his family and large circle of close friends, and so many lives that he touched with his inspiration…yet will never be forgotten.

A sweet friend of mine told me that she sees Adam playing a much bigger part in the scheme of things here in this physical plane, than anything he could have done if he would have lived.  I have always been very spiritual, but since Adam’s passing I see things spiritually in such a different perspective and strongly feel the ‘push’ or need to explore much deeper into the after-life.  I also feel that through my exploration, I will find a much deeper, richer relationship with my son than ever before, or would have experienced if he was still here with me.  For this realization, I feel blessed.

“Adam, my Love, your beautiful smile and warm hugs will forever be felt by me.  Your immense kindness and compassion for others truly inspires me.  We had a very special closeness and bond between us, that I will never forget.  Your energy and spirit will always be present, and fond memories of you will forever be spoken.  I will always feel your heart close to mine….I love you so so much, Honey!” ~mom