NEW YORK, NY — A Guilford mother who lost her son to a drug overdose and has been one of Connecticut’s leading spokespeople in the fight against the epidemic made an emotional plea on national television Monday for more focus on the crisis that killed over 1,000 people in Connecticut in 2017.
President Donald Trump was listening — and tweeted a response to Sue Kruczek’s plea.
“I’m just begging and pleading for help,” Kruczek, whose son Nick died at age 20 of a drug overdose, said in an interview about the drug epidemic in front of viewers on Fox & Friends in the New York studios of the show.
While the interview was being aired pictures of Nick Kruczek flashed across the television screens.
She said she was encouraged that the recent spending bills approved by Congress and signed by Trump designate more money — $6 billion — to fight the drug crisis.
Within minutes of her appearance, the president tweeted his response.
Here is what Trump said:
“Thank you to Sue Kruczek, who lost her wonderful and talented son Nick to the opioid scourge, for your kind words while on Fox & Friends. We are fighting this terrible epidemic hard — Nick will not have died in vain!”
Kruczek caught the attention of the Fox television show when stories circulated last week about a letter she wrote to Trump concerning the lack of action the country has taken to stem the drug epidemic.
Kruczek, on television Monday, said the heroin and drug crisis “is the biggest epidemic our nation has ever faced. It is the only disease not being handled in an appropriate way.” She said people suffering from drug problems need help, rather than scorn.
At points during Monday’s interview, Kruczek got emotional. At one point, she said: “I told myself I wasn’t going to cry.”
A producer from the television show, which boasts a viewership of 2 million including Trump, contacted Kruczek over this past weekend to ask her to be on the show.
Kruczek has been one of Connecticut’s leading advocates in speaking about the heroin and opioid epidemic that is killing three people a day in Connecticut.
She has appeared with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and many other Connecticut politicians during bill signings designed to curb the drug overdose crisis in recent years.
On Fox & Friends Monday she talked about the new national effort to shine a spotlight on the crisis.
“The idea (A Valentine’s Day letter sent to President Donald Trump and every governor in the country) started in California,” she said. “A group of us activists got together via social media and put the final details in place. It took off and we all spread the word. Thousands of pictures will be sent across the nation.”
Kruczek said she mailed the president a picture of her son with a letter she reads when she appears in front of a group of students in Connecticut or at forums. She said her letter, and the others being written, are also being sent to every governor in the country.
Here is the letter that Kruczek sent the president:
I stand in front of you wearing my son Nick’s memorial hockey jersey. Sadly, I will never have the opportunity to see Nick wear his own again… I remember years ago somebody speaking to Nick’s 6th grade class. He said look around at everybody in the room.
Take a good look because sadly two of your classmates won’t reach adulthood. I thought, wow how heart wrenching for those poor families. Never imagining in a couple years it would be my family’s tragedy. After all, I was the room mother, volunteered at almost every function, was active in church. I had a great kid who had great friends from really great families who truly loved life and lived it to the fullest and he was a hockey super star.
Nick entered high school coming off the #6 hockey team in the nation. As a freshman he was the starting center on his varsity hockey team. He was expected to do big things. Just a little pressure… We later found out this is where our nightmare began. Just before his very first game in the locker room an upper class-man gave him a little white pill to help him relax.
He must have liked the way it made him feel — because he later told his Dad that he never played a high school game sober. Nick was a 14-year-old boy with his whole life ahead of him. Fast forward a couple years… Nick graduated from Daniel Hand High School in Madison, went on to attend classes at Southern Connecticut State University and made their hockey team. During this time his addiction became noticeable and began to bear its ugly head. Nick came to us and revealed he had a drug problem and needed to go to rehab. He was addicted to opiates. I had to google what an opiate was. Crazy, huh?
My kid, the popular, loving athlete. A drug addict? We made some calls, drove him to Rushford for him only to be turned away because they didn’t have any beds available and even if they did they didn’t accept our insurance. How could this be? We had good insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield of CT. They turned away my beautiful son, who was sick and seeking help. So, we went home, made some more phone calls and ultimately had to put our child on a plane to go to some detox facility in Florida. He celebrated his 20th Birthday there.
After a week he was transferred to a rehab facility. Insurance doesn’t pay for this. We did and it’s quite costly. But, I thought he would go to rehab, make a new life down there where he was away from everything bad he knew here and then he would be all better. Again… crazy, huh? I knew so little. So, Nick was in Florida for about 9 months. We had to fly him home every month to go to court due to a misdemeanor that had been hanging over his head.
Every month it got postponed and back he went. He had a few slip-ups down there, which just meant more money from us and Nick starting over again. In June of 2013 the court decided to put Nick on probation. Which meant he couldn’t leave CT and go back to rehab. So, Nick got a job, enrolled in a few classes back at Southern and got an apartment. He would call me or text me every day to tell me he loved me. A few months later I didn’t get my phone call or text.
I knew something was very wrong. I called the hospital to see if Nick was there. He wasn’t. I found myself pleading with God that he was in jail. Because the only other option could just not be happening. I went to his apartment and that’s when I found Nick and that Nick had lost his battle with addiction. 11 days before he should’ve turned 21. I can’t re-think what we didn’t know.
But, I can warn parents… Part of the problem was, we just didn’t know to say… stay away from Oxycontin. Now, we do know about Oxycontin and the deadly path it can take to heroin. I can walk away the lucky one though.
I was privileged to be Nick’s Mom for 20 years.
And got to hear “I love you Mom” every single day.