October 17, 2013

After tragedy, family turns to hope

Parents who lost son to overdose start nonprofit

By Amie Sites Pharos-Tribune

---- — FLORA — Brady Noonkester died June 9, 2012, two weeks after his high school graduation, from a prescription drug overdose. But his name lives on in Brady’s Hope, an organization launched in September.

The organization was started by Brady’s parents, Dustin and Jennifer Noonkester, with three goals in mind. The couple aimed to raise $500 to bring a speaker to Carroll Jr.-Sr. High School, $500 to donate to the local DARE program and another $500 to give to the local canine unit.

The Noonkester couple sponsored Wayne Campbell, president of Tyler’s Light, to speak at Carroll Jr.-Sr. High School on Tuesday. Tyler’s Light is a forum of information to help people choose a drug-free life and resources for family members or friends who might be abusing drugs, according to its website.

The Noonkesters believe it’s important to provide information about drug abuse to others.

“In little communities, drug addiction and abuse is taboo,” Dustin said. “No one wants to be looked at as an addict.”

The Brady’s Hope website was created to share information about Brady, the organization and information on drugs and available help. Dustin Noonkester said one advantage of the website is that people with questions can find resources and help in the privacy of their home.

The website also shows the common drugs, drugs of choice and some names drugs are now called, Jennifer Noonkester said.

“We had no clue,” she added. “He was a normal kid who was about to leave for the National Guard. We were asking the wrong questions.”

Parents have to know what the right questions are, Jennifer Noonkester said.

Dustin Noonkester agreed, saying on average parents don’t know how bad it is, but police officers and emergency medical personnel often know what’s going on.

Dustin Noonkester also commented on the importance of locking up prescription medicines.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people often think prescription and over-the-counter drugs are safer than illicit drugs, but that’s only true when they are taken exactly as prescribed and for the purpose intended.

When abused, prescription and over-the-counter drugs can be additive and put abusers at risk for health effects including overdose, according to the institute.

“They are just taking drugs when the prescription drugs don’t belong to them,” Dustin Noonkester said.

The death of Brady has forever changed their family, Dustin Noonkester said. Brady has two brothers who speak to others on how his death has affected them.

“We want them to understand the choices you make not only affect you, but the people you love the most,” Dustin Noonkester said. “Brady’s choice has affected us for the rest of our life.”

The organization will set more goals to meet as it continues. The biggest goal is to help others.

“If we can help one individual, it’s worth it,” Dustin said. “It’s about saving a life.”

Brady’s Hope is a nonprofit organization under the Flora Community Club. Those interested in becoming a sponsor should send donations to Brady’s Hope, 1537 S. 6 West, Bringhurst, IN 46913. All sponsorships will benefit local DARE programs, guest speakers for local schools on drug awareness, Carroll County canine unit and other similar programs. Those who donate $50 or more will receive a Brady’s Hope t-shirt.

If others want to get in touch, they can visit the website or email BradysHope@hot

“Let’s join forces,” Jennifer said. “We would love to talk with anyone who wants to get in touch with us.”

Amie Sites is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or Follow her: @PharosAES.

Brady's Hope WEBSITE: EMAIL: DONATE: If interested in becoming a sponsor, send donations to Brady's Hope, 1537 S. 6 W. Bringhurst, IN 46913