TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - No parent should ever have to bury a child. Burying two children is an unthinkable nightmare.
Ross Horton lost two of his children to drug overdoses. His son Steven was 27 when he passed away three weeks ago, nearly two-and-half years after his younger sister Shalonda, 23, also succumbed to addiction.
Even has he continues to heal, Ross Horton threw out the first pitch at Fifth-Third Field Wednesday night. He did so to honor his two children.
"When I'm standing out there tonight holding my son and daughter's pictures out there," Horton said. "I hope it hit's somebody."
Horton say he deals with the loss of his children every day. Every day, he feels the devastation that he will never see his children fully grow up.
"I no longer have two of my children," Horton said. "You know, I'll never see my daughter get married, I'll never see my son get married."
He says attending support groups helped him cope. But he knew he needed to take on a bigger role.
Horton started Families and Addicts Coming Together or F.A.C.T. The group works to bring everyone touched by addiction together.
"These addicts hurt and so that's why we welcome them into our group because the families need to hear their side just like the addicts need to hear the families hurt," Horton said.
Jerry Schwamberger attends F.A.C.T. He is a recovering addict, who began using at just 10-years-old.
"I was running from my problems and you can't run from them because they are going to eventually catch up to you," Schwamberger said.
He spent 14 months clean and relapsed, overdosing on heroin. It took several doses of Narcan to bring him back.
"Narcaned me 14 times," Schwamberger said. "They don't Narcan people that many times. So God really blessed me with another chance to live."
He committed to not waste that chance. Schwamberger is now four-months clean and he says groups like F.A.C.T. help him resist any temptation to return to the drug that nearly took his life.
"It helps keep me clean it helps me realize how far I've come in my recovery process and a sense of purpose in life," Schwamberger said.
Meanwhile, Horton hopes that by sharing his story at the Mud Hens, others will join him in his effort to "strike out heroin." And though he missed Wednesday's meeting of F.A.C.T., Horton promises he will be back to continue to support others hurt by addiction.
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