- Hundreds came out to support local charities during the annual Kaleidoscope of Hope fundraiser that was held in the new ballroom of the Brookstreet Hotel on Jan 9.
The winter themed events purpose this year was to raise funds for mental health and addictions, a mission they have had since the gala originally started in 2011.
Funds this year are to go to We The Parents, a Kanata drug advocacy group, the Sens Foundation, and the Youth Services Bureau.
Among those to speak at the event was Josh Clatney, a board member with We The Parents. His journey of using drugs started in April 2008, after his father was in a serious car accident.
“It was very serious and the relationship with my family — especially my father — changed over this time,” said Clatney. “I struggled with that. I had a lot of questions, but I didn’t have a lot of answers.”
Clatney started using marijuana daily at the age of 12, and by 15, started consuming alcohol. By 19, he tried almost every drug imaginable, including heroin and percocets.
This caused a lot of health issues for Clatney including both kidney and liver failure, as well as heart failure and a staph infection.
“It destroyed my life, and it destroyed my physical health. You name it, I’ve snorted it, injected it, or smoked it,” Clatney said. “I only cared about getting high, everything else took a backseat. I pushed everyone away, I got arrested and jailed all for a buzz.”
After five serious overdoses, Clatney decided to get help, yet that journey was not easy. Their is only one treatment facility for youth in Ottawa, with a waiting list of up to three months.
He was prescribed suboxone, a drug that is used to relieve the cravings.
Today, Clatney is currently clean, and is hoping to stay that way. He is continuing his work with We The Parents, fighting for more money from all levels of government, to open up more detox and treatment facilities.
Steve and Natalie Cody also spoke at the fundraiser. They lost their son Nick, back in 2013 after a fatal overdose. Nick wanted to get help, yet the system failed him.
“It’s close to 6am (and) I got a knock on the bedroom door,” Steve said remembering the day Nick asked for help. “Our son said ‘I’ve done a lot of cocaine, I need help’.”
That morning, the Cody’s ran around trying to find help for their son. They went to CHEO who told them they don’t deal with overdoses, and sent them to the Royal Ottawa. When they arrived there, they said they dont treat 16-year-olds with a drug addiction.
They then turned to local politicians for support. They went to the office of Pierre Poilievre, the MP for their riding of Carleton who told them “it was a provincial issue, not a federal issue.”
They then went to Lisa MacLeod, the newly elected MPP for Nepean-Carleton at the time, who was eager to get them help, yet realized there was no help she could offer.
“The Codys were the first to come into my office in 2006 when their son Nick was dealing with a drug addiction,” MacLeod said at an opioid forum in October. “That was the first time I realized we did not have the treatment or detox facilities in our city.”
The Cody’s also tried the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre, and Rideauwood, both that had a three month waiting list.
“For us it didn’t end very well,” the Cody’s told the crowd. “Our son ended up passing in June 2013, and that’s extremely unfortunate. After he died, we started to say no for Nick.”
They wanted to become advocates so other parents wouldn’t have to go through what they went through, yet they did not have the emotional energy at the time.
“We always knew we wanted to help and give back, (but) we just didn’t have the emotional energy,” Steve said. “It took us three years to really get out life back together.”
Recently, they have worked with MacLeod on Nicks Law, a bill they are currently trying to get passed at Queens Park. It would take 10% or around $5.6 million of the government’s marketing budget, and put it towards opioid awareness.
A petition to help get the law passed is up at nickslaw.ca.