Denise Konow, Christy Couvillier and Casey Leleux say they’re in a club no one wants to join. Each has lost a child to the opioid crisis. But they’ve found in each other the courage to fight.
Denise was under no illusions about her daughter’s addiction. When she got a call from police, she expected Gabrielle to be crying. She was dead from what Denise and other mothers like her call a poisoning — not an overdose. Gabrielle didn’t know what she was taking.
“This might sound funny, but there’s two things my daughter wouldn’t do. She wouldn’t do crack because she was too good to do crack. And she wouldn’t do fentanyl because she always said, ‘I don’t want to die.’”
An addict herself, Christy knows how hard it is to shake addiction.
“This new generation of addicts … they don’t have the chance to [get it right]. There’s no second chance,” she says. Her son Hunter made incredible strides with his addiction. He moved to Florida, got a steady job, and was always fishing in his free time. Hunter took what he believed to be an ecstasy pill and didn’t wake up.
Casey’s daughter, Lyric (better known as Bebop), was a popular Lafayette artist and tattooer. Lyric bought what she thought was Xanax a few days after her 21st birthday — it turned out to be fentanyl and was fatal.
The trio connected with each other, and with Lilly Harvey, founder of Millie Mattered, who lost her own daughter to fentanyl poisoning.
These women find comfort in grieving and in keeping their children’s memories alive.
Their advocacy helped pass legislation to fight fentanyl poisoning by holding accountable those who provide fatal doses of the drug. The offense is also now classified as a crime of violence.
Their stories have become central to raising awareness about the opioid crisis in Acadiana. They’ve used the platform to help advocate for greater distribution of the life-saving overdose drug naloxone, a campaign credited with reducing the rate of overdose deaths locally.
Theirs may be a club no one wants to join, but it’s a club that’s saving lives.
“Anybody can be affected by this epidemic,” says Casey. “Every home in Acadiana, be it if you’re an 86-year-old grandmother or a 25-year-old pastor.”
Celebrate Denise, Christy, Casey and the rest of this year’s honorees Dec. 1 at Moncus Park.
Brach, Carly, and Emile
Myers Family Fund