Brett O’Keefe of Flower Mound had just turned 18 when he died of a drug overdose last March. He had grown up with a loving family and lots of friends, attending local schools like Flower Mound Elementary and Marcus High School. None of that, however, prevented him from losing the fight with drug addiction, and now his parents, Kathy and Ben O’Keefe, are dedicating themselves to helping others win the fight that their son lost.
Kathy O’Keefe says 10 residents of Flower Mound, Lewisville and The Colony, ranging in age from 18 to 44, died of drug overdoses in the year before her son died.
“For some reason, the people that live in this area are not aware of it, and that’s not acceptable. It’s crazy numbers, and nobody knows,” she said. “Until we as a community say this has got to stop, it is going to continue.”
So, as part of the healing process, in a decision to make something good come from something very, very bad, the O’Keefes founded WTF, Winning the Fight.
They took a slang abbreviation that their son was known for using, but replaced the crude meaning of that phrase with the positive Winning the Fight moniker. The group is now a non-profit organization providing education through community forums, professional services for families, abusers and addicts, and a complete series of networking tools to assist people struggling with drug addiction.
“Their sobriety will result in the ability to live a fulfilling life without drugs, encouraging the maximum quality of life for each person it serves. I don’t want to lose another child,” O’Keefe added.
Weekly meetings are part of what they offer, and the next meeting is set for this Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 7 p.m. at the Living Hope Church on College Parkway in Flower Mound. For more information, you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, call 571-207-6190 or visit their Facebook page.
One of their major fundraisers is WTF bracelets that sell for $2 each with $3 shipping, and are available through their Facebook page.
O’Keefe said their goal is for WTF to become a strong resource within the abuser/addict community as they determine the needs of those addicted and their families.
“WTF will network with local organizations within each county that support rehabilitation, i.e. rehab centers, intensive outpatient programs, drug counselors, law enforcement, half way houses, sober living homes, and local schools, providing families with the tools they will need to encourage sobriety,” she stated.
“WTF will reach out to all ages of kids in the community, both those that are non-drug users as well as those who want to be clean. Most kids have friends who are struggling so it becomes a package deal that WTF is prepared to assist with.”
Thinking back to last March when the family got the news that Brett had passed away, O’Keefe reflects on what those first few days without her son were like. She, her husband and other son, Kyle, were enjoying a weekend in San Antonio when they received the phone calls that changed their lives forever.
“Telling Kyle was one of hardest things we had to do,” said O’Keefe. “We immediately left San Antonio and made the five hour, quiet drive home. All lost in our own thoughts. We could not talk. Our safety was at hand. Once we were close to home, all of us became anxious. When we got home, we immediately began to “fall apart”.
“Friends came with support, food, love. But it did not matter. We were now three. I remember those few days after. Mostly trying to grasp what our life had now turned into, and making sure that all the details were perfect. After all, it was for Brett.
“We miss our son immensely, but we know that he is no longer an addict that has to fight every single day of his life. His purpose on earth was to be a friend. We know that now. His purpose now is to help those friends shed their monkeys. As a parent, we will continue to help him.”