A Deadly Secret: Kacie's Cause to hold meeting on heroin addiction epidemic

Honey Brook Fire Company #1 EMS Captain Charles Brogan, EMT Samantha Errington and EMT Jeffrey Burroughs at an informational stand for Kacie's Cause. Photo provided
Jeanne Sarmento wears Kacie's Cause's signature blue ribbon to help raise awareness of heroin addiction. Photo provided

It’s a chilling story, and one that happens all too often in small communities like this, according to the members of Kacie’s Cause.

Kacie’s Cause was founded by Andrew Rumford because of the tragic death of his daughter, Kacie Erin Rumford, age 23, on March 12, 2013. He discovered her body in her bedroom from a heroin overdose.

The public is invited and encouraged to attend an upcoming town hall meeting for Kacie’s Cause on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. in Honey Brook Elementary Center, 1530 Walnut Rd., Honey Brook.

Alice Moran, a local mother, said, “We have a core group of dedicated volunteers that meet regularly to maintain and further the work to spread the word about heroin addiction through Kacie’s Cause. We have sponsored several town hall meetings in Parkesburg, Oxford, Kennett and recently New Garden Township.

“We are very grateful to Twin Valley School District for allowing us to hold our Town Hall at Honey Brook. District Superintendent Robert Plies is very supportive of our initiative,” she added.

Kacie’s Cause seeks to educate the public regarding signs and symptoms of substance use, as well as discussing laws and policy, medical power of attorney and awareness of drug activity within the community. There are now five subchapters, with Honey Brook being one.

Moran continued, “Jeanne Sacramento and myself are the ‘outreach’ people to contact. We are dedicated to Kacie’s Cause and the message that our group seeks to promote. We would like to see the stigma and shame that goes with addiction be removed, and feel this can be done by opening a dialogue regarding substance abuse. People do not realize how cheaply and easily heroin is to come by.”

Chaz Brogan, captain for Honey Brook EMS, said, “We have a strong commitment to community health and safety. When I first heard of this program, I knew it could be extremely beneficial to the Honey Brook and Morgantown area.”

Brogan said the EMS has formed a strong partnership with the organization, assisting with outreach to the community, police departments and local businesses and organizations.

Rumford noted that addicts often choose heroin because it is cheap – only about $8 a bag, whereas street pills may cost $35 a piece. The Philadelphia area has one of the highest rates of addiction in the nation.

Most heroin comes from Afghanistan, Columbia and Mexico. It creates a chemical imbalance in the brain. Rumford compared an addicts struggle to stop using to a Parkinson patient trying to will themself to stop shaking.

“Kacie didn’t come home the night before,” Rumford said of the day that changed his life forever. “I was up early that morning and at 6 a.m. she comes in and I sit her down. I was very upset, letting her know in no uncertain terms, for a good ten minutes, that we knew she was a heroin addict again and she needed help.”

Rumford had to leave for work, telling his daughter they’d talk more later. He came home from work early that afternoon.

“I didn’t see Kacie’s handbag, so I jumped on a conference call real quick for work,” he said. “At about 2 p.m. we couldn’t find her, so I opened the door to her bedroom. She was kneeling on her floor, and her arms were on her bed, outstretched with a needle next to her arm. I pulled her hair back and saw that her lips were blue. I gave her CPR and mouth-to-mouth. She was gone.”

“Kacie was a wild-eyed wonder, just full of life,” he added, calling her someone who was passionate about making a difference.

“Addiction does not discriminate. If you think something is wrong it probably is,” Rumford said. “It doesn’t make any difference if you son or daughter is a star athlete, a cheerleader, a scholar. They’ll protect it well, they will lie to you, they will manipulate you in ways that you have never imagined in your life.”

Kacie’s addiction started with prescription pills, eventually progressing to heroin.

“She would always be tired, it would be one o’clock, two o’clock in the afternoon and she was always sleeping. That’s a warning sign; we should have known,” he said. “She would say, ‘Dad, I haven’t eaten in a few days.’ Some of these things, they present themselves, but as a parent you’re so close to your child, you’re trying to fix the problem and not really looking at them from ten feet away and saying, ‘What’s wrong with this behavior?’” said Rumford.

Other warning signs include staying out later and repeatedly breaking rules that are set down. Eventually the bigger picture starts becoming clearer. The Rumfords even had their wedding rings taken, as well as other valuables, so Kacie could get her fix.

“We visit her crypt often. We read books, we sit and talk,” he said. “We had her for 23 wonderful years and she should have never gone. There’s no more Christmastimes, opening stockings, none of it, and it rips your heart out.”

“You wake up every morning and you kiss a cardboard picture of her. And you spray some perfume that reminded you of her and your last hugs with her. You want to hear her voice once more. You sit and cry, and you do the best you can. They say that each day gets better, well it doesn’t. And I don’t really suspect that it will,” Rumford said.

Kacie’s Cause uses blue bracelets and ribbons to spread awareness signifying the blue heroin bags. The girl who wanted to make a difference in the world now is.

For more information on Kacie’s Cause, visit their website at http://www.kaciescause.com or find them on Facebook. To help spread the word, contact Andy Rumford at longwoodcorvette@yahoo.com.