2nd annual John Brower Jr. 5K walk set for Saturday
By Janee Law
When members of Dix Hills’ Brower family lost 25-year-old son John Brower Jr. to a heroin overdose in June 2014, their lives changed forever.
John Brower Sr., his father, said that instead of having flowers at his son’s funeral, the family wanted to make a difference by having donations made out to the Outreach Program, a Queens-based nonprofit organization dedicated to helping teens and adults fight drug and alcohol addiction.
The family then in July 2015 founded a nonprofit of their own, the John Brower Jr. Foundation, which has set out to educate the public on drug addiction, and which has donated more than $37,000 to Outreach. The foundation is also set on Saturday to host with the Outreach Program its 2nd annual 5K walk at Jones Beach.
Brower said there’s a “giant heroin-opiate epidemic here on Long Island” and that he and his family are “going to continue to fight it because we’re dedicated to try and save people’s lives.”
He continued, “If we can save one life, then my son didn’t die in vain.”
Last year, more than 400 people attended the walk, according to Brower. He added that, since the nonprofit’s inception, it has raised over $40,000 to causes that battle drug addiction.
“One of the big things we got out of last year’s walk was that there were people attending that were going up to counselors asking how they can get help for a family member, themselves or neighbors,” Brower said. “We’re just trying to make a difference. We’re excited to continue to grow this 5k walk, and continue to raise awareness.”
There is a $20 fee to register for this year’s walk, and all proceeds from it will be donated to the Outreach Program. Morning check-in for the event is at 9 a.m. at Jones Beach Field 5, with the walk beginning at 10 a.m.
Brower said he hopes that more than 1,000 people will attend, and said the foundation is looking to raise at least $50,000.
But, more importantly, he said, “We just want to get a lot of people out there. It doesn’t matter how much you can give, if we raise less money, but we have more awareness, we don’t mind that at all.”
Outreach President Kathleen Riddle said the nonprofit is proud to join the Brower family’s mission.
“The Brower family is one of too many Long Island families who have experienced the heartbreak of opiate addiction,” Riddle said. “We join the Browers in their mission to do all we can to raise awareness for teens and young adults, so additional families do not have to lose a loved one to substance abuse. The Brower family has been tremendously generous and devoted to the cause. We are enormously thankful for their support.”
Since its inception, the foundation has participated in other awareness activities by getting involved in Narcan training, and working with the Dix Hills Public Library to have parents start a conversation with their children about the drug epidemic.
While his son’s death is now more than two years in the past, Brower said the memory of his son is alive and with the family every day as they continue to fight to end drug addiction.
He added, “We will continue with these walks and our other foundation activities until we see a marked improvement in the heroin and opiate problem that continues to affect our communities.”
For more information on the nonprofit, or to register for Saturday’s walk, call 718-847-9233 ext. 2310, or visit Johnbrowerjrfoundation.org.