If talking about his son’s death will save another parent from losing their child, he’ll fight back the tears and overcome the painful emotions every chance he can.

David Plew doesn’t mind telling people about his son, Leland, who was 22 years old when he passed away in 2014 from a heroin overdose. For the past two years, Plew has spoken to parents and students about the dangers of drug use and how his son’s battle with substance abuse has forever changed the lives of so many people he knew.

Now, with the help of two of Leland’s closest friends and Overdose Lifeline, a charity committed to informing and educating people about opioid addiction, Plew is able to help provide emergency workers with Narcan kits to reverse the effects of opioids and potentially save someone from dying from an overdose. For the second consecutive year, Plew and Leland’s friends will host the Overdose Lifeline charity and memorial golf outing, where proceeds from entry fees will pay for those kits.

In 2015, more than 200 Johnson County police department vehicles were equipped with Narcan. The kits cost a little more than $40 each and must be replaced after they’re used. Narcan was successfully used by a Trafalgar and New Whiteland police officer and three Johnson County sheriff’s deputies in 2015.

If Narcan kits were available to law enforcement officers and citizens in 2014, the deputy who arrived to Plew’s house, or Plew and his wife, would have had one and Leland could still be alive today, Plew said.

The annual golf outing is in memory of Leland and two other young adults who lost their lives to overdoses, one of whom was Leland’s friend, Plew said. The outing also honors Jarrod Polston, who was 18 when he died from a methadone overdose; and Aaron Sims, who lost his life to a heroin overdose when he was 20 years old. Sims is the son of Justin Phillips, who runs Overdose Lifeline, Plew said.

After covering the cost to host the golf outing, every dollar raised goes to Overdose Lifeline and is used to purchase Narcan kits, Plew said. Last year, the memorial golf outing raised $6,000, Plew said.

Taylor Kennel and Eric Roach, two of Leland’s closest friends, decided to do the outing to raise money and awareness, Kennel said.

Last year, a total of 14 four-person teams signed up. By July, 18 teams already had signed up for this year’s outing at Hickory Stick golf course in Greenwood, Plew said. About 30 more people are expected to participate in the outing this year, Plew said.

“I hope that what we get out of this event is education that spreads through our community and that this saves a life,” Kennel said. “The opioid epidemic just keeps growing, and I hope we can put a stop to it.”

Phillips, who started Overdose Lifeline after her son died, has reached out to and recruited parents like Plew to share their stories of loss and experiences with a child who was addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Her goal is to break the negative stigma that surrounds addiction and educate people on how to help someone battling drug and alcohol abuse, Phillips said.

“This is prevention education in addition to a fundraiser,” Phillips said. “To have these young men wanting to do this act of service in memory of their friends is a remarkable trait for them. They are taking their own personal time to make this happen and make a difference.”

If you go

What: The second annual overdose Lifeline charity and memorial golf outing. Proceeds from the tournament will go to Overdose Lifeline to help pay for Narcan kits for law enforcement officers.

Where: Hickory Stick Golf Course, 4422 Hickory Stick Blvd., Greenwood

When: Friday. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m., golf starts at 1 p.m.

How to get involved: visit overdose-lifeline.org/golf-event

Author photo
Corey Elliot is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at celliot@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2719.