As Brandy Turco deals with her own heartbreak, she shows drug users a mother's unconditional love

MONROE, Ohio -- Brandy Turco believed anyone who used drugs "was a piece of crap," she said Wednesday, until she learned her own son was one of them. Grappling with his addiction forced her to reevaluate the way she thought of others who lived the same struggle.

"It would be easier to stop loving him," she said. "It would be a lot easier."

Yet it was also impossible. Turco can't always reach her son, but she hopes she can reach people like him with her new project: Journey bags, care packages containing personal hygiene items, snacks and other resources to help people living with addiction.

She partnered with Butler County's Substance Abuse and Mental Illness Court as well as Warren County's Rapid Response Team to ensure the bags reached the people who needed them most, she said. However, matching supply to demand -- she distributed 250 journey bags between September and April -- depleted her financial resources and her ideas for raising more. The project might have died if she hadn't met David Erwin.

Erwin, New Freedom Church's music minister, lost his daughter to an overdose in 2015. Hearing about Turco's plight and her desire to show drug users unconditional loves moved him to get involved.

"We're linking to hopefully make a difference and draw those who are in need," he said. "We need to reach the outside. We need to go like the scriptures tell us, to go out and compel them to come."

The pair developed the idea to raise money for their now-shared project with a 5K race. If just 100 people participate in "A New Kind of Fix" on May 19, Turco said, they can make a real difference in the lives of drug users. 

"I need to know that when I bury my son, if I ever bury my son, I've done everything that I possibly can and that it's not a waste," she said. "That his death wasn't senseless."

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