A dozen teenage boys heard a story that will hopefully inspire them to make permanent changes in their lives, from a man who has lived through the pain that drug abuse may cause, and now lives to ensure that it does not happen to anyone else.
Frank Hoetker is a father who lost his son to drug abuse and now travels to schools and treatment facilities to share his son’s story.
He unveiled a large frame with an image of a young, smiling, blond-haired teen, before the teen patients of the Daybreak Youth Services inpatient substance abuse treatment center in Vancouver, Washington.
That photo was of Hoetker’s son, Darby, who died in 1998 at the young age of 28, due to a drug overdose.
He then walked over to a small wooden box on the table, and revealed what lay inside… a clear plastic bag filled with ashes: “Seven pounds… that’s all I have left of my dear little son, Darby. Seven pounds of ashes. I am forever heartbroken, devastated, and still angry.”
Darby was born on September 7, 1970, and grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. By the age of 13, Darby began experimenting with drugs. When he was 17, his father found him barely breathing at home. His eyes were rolled back; there was froth coming out of his mouth, while a syringe lay nearby.
Darby also spent time at an inpatient treatment center, and went on to finish high school, enroll in junior college, and got a job. He moved to New York City, but one day, Hoetker received a call from NYPD – Darby had overdosed and was found on a street corner.
Darby moved back to San Francisco, but all his near brushes with death failed to deter him from abusing drugs. Then, the worst happened: “At age 28, he was pronounced dead at 12:49 p.m. on November 10.”
Addressing the young boys, the elder Hoetker said: “Drug addiction ruins families. It ruins communities. It ruins lives. It will ruin your lives.”