“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Maya Angelou
I began to speak about substance use, alcohol awareness, mental health, wellness, and the importance of making good choices in 2009. You may be familiar with my daughter’s story, Taylor Meyer, as it made national news at the time. She was the young lady (17) who was a senior at King Philip High School in MA in 2008 and passed away from underage drinking after her homecoming game and a series of underage drinking parties. She drowned in two feet of water, after getting lost at an outside party in the woods at an abandoned airport in Norfolk, MA. I started “Taylor’s Message” two months later, and have been spreading alcohol awareness throughout the nation since.
I met my husband, Chris Sullivan, at my first parent night that I was presenting just two months after I lost Taylor. He was attending, not as a parent, but as a man suffering from substance use disorder myself. He graduated Boston College in 1995, and was able to start 48 straight games on the football team. While in graduate school in 1996, he got drafted by the Patriots. He played in the NFL for 6 years with the Patriots and Steelers, playing in two super bowls and winning Super Bowl XXXVI. However, Chris’s years of not addressing his struggles with mental health, anxiety, depression and overall wellness ultimately led him down a path of destructive decisions prematurely ending his lifelong dream of professional football.
He suffered from the disease of addiction, (heroin & alcohol) for over 6 years and was only 5 weeks sober at that parent night. He was so lucky because he had a support structure that is so critical in recovery. We were married two years later and have been driven by a purpose to spread awareness as a team ever since. That purpose has introduced us to so many wonderful students, parents, and communities where we undoubtedly always leave feeling like we ended up where we were supposed to.
When we share our message it is mainly to high school & college age students, but we will adapt the delivery specifically for middle schoolers (7th and 8th). The duration is about 75 minutes if we both speak or 45-50 minutes for one of us. We feel it is most powerful with both of us (same fee…so no worries there!) We prefer to speak in the morning so the students can digest the content and have the day to share with their friends or to speak with support through the school resources. As an alternative we also offer a parent/social host/community nights. We have shared with individual classrooms in the past, but mostly do the full student body or individual grades.
We realize that great speakers usually come with a high cost, but we usually can make it work within the schools budgets. It is our passion to spread the message to as many students and communities as possible! Amazing things happen within those auditorium walls when our story enters the hearts of students. “Authentic” is a common word people use to describe our program. We have a long list of referrals which can be provided upon request.
We are looking forward to working with you to spread awareness and in-turn making a difference in someone’s life. It is a gift to be a small part of the ripple effect that happens from sharing! We never know how one word, one message, one act of kindness can change the outcome of someone’s life and make a positive change in this world. Our part is to share our stories which can only happen through the passion of teachers, administrators and wellness coordinators who can bring this event to their community. By working together a message of compassion and hope can be heard. So thank you for doing what you do, every day and for caring about your communities!
We recently decided it is in our hearts to do this full time with full-time plan and purpose. Please let us know if you have any questions, through the contact information listed and referrals to other communities or people in need is most welcome. The website has some videos attached as well, so please feel free to take a look at them!
Passionate in prevention,
Kathi Sullivan – firstname.lastname@example.org 508.369.2518