Nothing can prepare a parent for something terrible happening to their child. Now, imagine if something horrible happened to two of your children?
This was the harsh reality that one mother was faced with, and it all happened in the blink of an eye on one particular night. She remembers it like it was yesterday and she’s sharing her story in hopes that it doesn’t happen to anyone else…
Becky Savage speaks at conferences all over the country and she always starts her story the same way. She tells the audience, mostly students, about her two teenage sons, Nick and Jack. She shows them pictures telling them how they enjoyed hockey, loved Taco Bell, and how their favorite thing to do was to hang out late-night with friends.
June 14, 2015
Then, she tells them what happened on June 14, 2015. The Indiana mom’s two oldest sons, Nick and Jack, were up late that night celebrating high school graduation parties. They came home at about 12:30 am and they checked in with their mom, who had been waiting up…
The next Sunday morning was like any other and Becky was picking up dirty laundry from 18-year-old Jack’s room. But after one glance at her son, she noticed he wasn’t stirring in his sleep like he normally did so she tried to wake him up.
Becky shook her son, but he didn’t wake up. She knew to check his pulse since she was a nurse, but he didn’t have one. She immediately performed CPR on Jack and shouted loudly for help, while dialing 911…
Emergency At The Savage Home
Soon Becky heard sirens down her street and she watched as first responders try to resuscitate Jack. She remembering screaming at them when she saw them give up. Then, more first responders were rushed to her basement because a second 911 call had been made from her house at the same time- this one by a friend of 19-year-old Nick.
Now Both Of Her Sons Weren’t Waking Up
He had just finished his freshman year at Indiana University and Nick had spent all night in the basement with friends. But, now he wasn’t waking up either…
Soon, a paramedic came upstairs and asked for a coroner, and that was truly the last thing that Becky could remember that day. Both of her sons, Jack and Nick, were pronounced dead. They had accidentally overdosed on hydrocodone and alcohol.
Two Teens Charged
Someone at one of the graduation parties had passed around the prescription pills. And that next month, two teenagers were charged with providing the pills and drinks that killed the brothers. But after what just happened, Becky felt the bottom drop out of her life…
Picking Up The Pieces
She said it took about one year until she truly felt the pain of her loss. “The first year after, you can’t feel…You can’t even put thoughts together.” For the next year, the Savage family- Becky, her husband Mike and their younger sons, Justin and Matthew, worked on healing and picking up the broken pieces.
Her First Time Speaking Publicly
They didn’t discuss their loss publicly until Becky was asked to speak at a local town hall about underage drinking. She had never spoken publicly before and she thought there would be maybe 20 people there…
The Turn-Out Was More Than She Ever Could Have Expected
To her surprise, over 200 people wound up showing up, and it was then that the family realized the impact that their story could have. After their first speaking engagement, more speaking requests came in and the Savage family decided to turn their tragedy into something completely different- a story of positivity.
Only Two Options
Usually, after such a tragedy as this, there’s only two options. Either you can cave and allow the loss to take over your life while you wallow in the pain. Or, you can take what happened to you and create something positive from it, which is just what the Savage family did. That following year…
Savage Family And The 525 Foundation
The family founded the 525 Foundation, which is named after the boys’ hockey numbers (Jack’s 5 and Nick’s 25). They decided to share their story in the hopes of preventing another family from having to endure the pain they experienced. “We’ve talked to our kids about drinking, but we had never talked to them about prescription drugs.”
“Not My Child”
In fact, drugs weren’t even on their radar. This was something they never thought their boys would do, but, sadly, that’s where they went wrong. Jack and Nick were only two of the 4,235 young adults between the ages of 15 and 24 who died of drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2015 alone! That’s nearly triple the amount since 2000. Parents’ eyes grow bigger when they hear Becky’s story…
Making A Huge Difference
Becky is incredibly relatable; she explains that if it could happen to her kids, it could happen to theirs too. Once Becky starts speaking in front of a group of people, the room goes completely silent. She knows that the audience has questions and once the first hand pops up, more always follow.
Successful Pill Drop
Becky recently organized a pill drop, where with the help of local officials, she collects thousands of pounds of prescription medications. They managed to collect over 1,500 pounds in pills during three events, which is a lot of drugs. “Think of all the lives you could save,” Becky says. She shares that the morning after Jack and Nick died, a young man knocked on their door holding a card and a big bouquet of flowers…
He had driven all night to see the Savage family and he told them that he and Jack had gone to middle school together, but he had since moved away. He said that Jack had sat with him on the bus when no one else would. This was just many of the incredible qualities that Jack possessed.
And then there’s Nick. Nick was sharp and a had a love for science, studying chemistry and microbiology in college. One weekend during his freshman year, Nick hitched a ride back with a friend but didn’t tell his mom because he wanted to see the look in her eyes when he surprised her…
Remembering Jack And Nick
It was snowing that night and when he came in through the back door, his family bombarded him with hugs. Becky and Mike always knew their sons would do great things. Now, their two youngest sons ask to go on almost every event to allow their brothers’ story to live on.
What Comes Next
Since the tragedy, the Savage family has become part of an active conversation about what comes next. Becky has made it her mission to talk to teenagers about the dangers of opioid use and really anyone who will listen. Becky speaks at school rallies, parent meetings, and even to strangers who approach her while she’s out to dinner.