On April 22, 2016, our lives changed forever. We lost our beautiful son, Billy, to an overdose his first time using heroin. Billy was one of a kind. He was a loving brother, grandson, nephew, and cousin. He was a loyal friend. He was funny, and witty. He was kind. He was fiercely protective of anything and anyone he loved, and he made sure the world knew it. Even his strong heart, though, could not be shielded from the pain and anguish of addiction. While we have all been left to pick up the pieces of our hearts and somehow attempt to mend them back together again, this pain we have endured since he left us, doesn’t compare to what he struggled with for years. He was at war with himself each and every day - the good days, the bad days, and every single one in between, and we were there with him every step of the way. He had such unwavering pride for his family. He never wanted to let anyone down... and he never did.
As we approach the three year anniversary of Billy's untimely passing, we continue to find comfort in the outpouring of support we've received from so many. From the days immediately following his death, until now, the love and concern for our family has been humbling, heartwarming, and something we will keep at the forefront of our minds as we continue through our path of grief and growth. Since the day we lost him, our family has committed to raising awareness, and educating the community about addiction, and it is our mission to do so for years to come.
Less than a month after Billy's passing, we worked with Newsday to bring our story forth and to shed light on the opioid epidemic that has ravaged our community. There was a multi-page spread covering the disturbing number of prescriptions written on Long Island and New York State published in May 2016, and we would like to thank the staff at Newsday for bringing this information forth. To read the published article on opioid prescriptions, please click here.
We have also committed to raising funds for the organization that helped Billy through his struggles - Hope House Ministries. Day after his passing, a GoFundMe page (now deactivated) was set up in his honor and it features the words we spoke at his funeral. The message read that day was Billy’s uncensored truth, and we are proud to share it. His story touched many people and because of the community’s kindness and generosity, this initial fundraiser was a huge success. We are proud to say that through the GoFundMe page, direct donations, our 'Hope Walk for Addiction' event in 2017, and our 'WAR On Addiction Rally' in 2018, we have raised over $100,000 for Hope House Ministries. To read the words that were spoken at the funeral, please click here.
Billy lived a beautiful, loving, and powerful 25 years on this earth, and he lives on through his family, friends, and anyone touched by his story. His legacy is our commitment to educating and empowering families to understand addiction, and our urge to everyone to have compassion for those fighting their way through it. Most of all, Billy lives on through our message to anyone suffering from addiction – please do not hide because of shame or embarrassment. Your struggle is unlike any other, and you have nothing to be ashamed of. You are loved, just as Billy was, and we are here to support you, and your family and friends, until you believe it and live it each day. If we can save even one life through our efforts, then Billy’s death was not in vain. We truly believe that, and we believe that there is hope for a brighter tomorrow.
On behalf of the Reitzig family, thank you for taking the time to read our story, and thank you for your support.