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From Grief to Action: The Urgent Need to Address the Fentanyl Crisis

Updated: Oct 18, 2023


Young man reflecting on the loss of his friends in past images in a puddle of water

In 2017, a piece of my heart was forever shattered when I received the devastating news of the passing of one of my dearest childhood friends, William Waggoner. He had just returned home from jail, reaching out to me with newfound hope and a resolve to change his life. Little did I know that our long-anticipated reunion would be cut short. Less than two weeks after that heartfelt message, William was found unresponsive, the victim of a sinister killer - fentanyl.


At the time, I was oblivious to the ominous presence of fentanyl, an insidious substance that would go on to claim the lives of countless individuals across the nation. I was misinformed, told that it was a new form of heroin, a misconception that only deepened my anguish. William had believed he was using cocaine, unaware that it was laced with this deadly poison.


Recreated image of William Waggoner III Obituary
Rest Easy Will

The year 2020 brought another heart-wrenching blow when fentanyl resurfaced in my life, stealing away yet another cherished friend. Since then, the death toll within my close-knit circle has risen to a staggering 24 friends. None of them willingly sought out fentanyl. They were unwittingly exposed to this lethal toxin, turning their ordinary lives into tragic cautionary tales.


In my eyes, these losses should not be categorized as overdoses but as poisonings. Those who fell victim to fentanyl, including those who unknowingly distributed it, were not aware of the deadly nature of this drug.


One painful example is a young friend and social media influencer named, Yung Poppy who now serves a 13-year prison sentence for the accidental death of his friend. Both had consumed pills laced with fentanyl, leading to an overdose that claimed one life and forever altered the other. Yung Poppy's Instagram boasts a remarkable following of over 1.5 million devoted followers. Leveraging his influential platform, we are now working hand in hand to raise crucial awareness about the fentanyl crisis.



Social Media influencer Yung Poppy

Image of Yung Poppy IG Home Page

The fentanyl crisis has reached a catastrophic level, demanding immediate action from parents, educators, and youth advocates. During my presentations in school, I realized that a single conversation wasn't enough. These young minds needed consistent guidance through the challenges life threw their way.


Walk With Me Impact Youth Consultants Presenting About Fentanyl at Youth Awareness and Prevention Event
Walk With Me Impact Youth Consultants Presenting About Fentanyl at Youth Awareness and Prevention Event

Driven by a relentless commitment to solutions, I embarked on a mission to create a powerful tool. I challenged myself to craft a short book that would empower parents with the knowledge and communication skills needed to protect their children. Thus, "Stop Fentanyl" was born.


Stop Fentanyl Parent & School Guide Book Cover

Now, as I eagerly anticipate the official release of my curriculum, "Walk With Me Impact," I am filled with a profound sense of purpose. This curriculum, initially designed to address drug sales, human sex trafficking, gangs, and gun violence, has evolved to incorporate a crucial message about fentanyl, drug abuse, and addiction.


I am thrilled to soon place this vital resource into the hands of individuals worldwide, equipping them to have the essential conversations that too often go unspoken. The fentanyl crisis cannot be ignored any longer. It is our collective responsibility to educate, protect, and guide our youth toward safer paths, away from the clutches of this silent assassin.


Call to action: Let us stand together in this fight against fentanyl. Educate yourself, reach out to your children, and embrace the dialogue that could save lives. The time for action is now.


Distributing Fentanyl Test Strips and Narcan to Our Unsheltered Family

Make It Stop!


In shadows cast by poison's hand,

Our loved ones lost to unknown lands.

But with knowledge, we'll rise above,

To protect the youth with endless love.

With "Stop Fentanyl" in our grasp,

We'll break this cycle, hold it fast.

In "Walk With Me Impact," we unite,

Guiding youth toward futures bright.

Together, we'll face the trials ahead,

With courage, compassion, and love widespread.

For in these pages, we'll find the way,

To save our youth from harm's dark sway.

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