The Most Difficult Custom Memorial Bracelet I Ever Had to Make
This is the story of the hardest custom memorial bracelet I ever made.
My best friend’s 26-year son died of a fentanyl overdose. The day I heard the news might have been one of my worst days, but the hardest days was when we deciding to create this custom memorial bracelet.
Opioid addiction is an epidemic affecting thousands of Americans. Opioid addiction knows no bounds. It doesn’t pick and choose people based on demographics, but rather has a devastating impact on all of us who know someone struggling with addiction. According to the CDC, 1 in 4 people who receive opioids for pain treatment struggle with addiction. In fact, sales of prescription medicines containing opioids have quadrupled between 1999 and 2010. Surprisingly, 91 Americans die from opioid overdoses every day. Unfortunately, deaths due to overdoses are expected to remain the leading cause of death for years to come. The opioid epidemic isn’t a set of statistics and numbers. They are real people with real stories which is why creating this custom memorial bracelet, while difficult, was also incredibly meaningful.
When Addiction Hits Close to Home
Andrew passed away on May 23rd, and so many caring people attended the funeral. He was a local hero and the captain of his football team in high school. He was a kind, caring, and funny man that everyone loved. Andrew had struggled with addiction since a bad football accident had him on oxycodone for 6 weeks. Once he was unable to relieve his continuing pain with prescription pills, he turned to an alternative on the street. Just like the other 64,000 people that died last year from opioid-related overdoses…we lost him. The heartbreak and rage over this nationwide epidemic now hit personally.
His mother and brother reached out to me to create a custom memorial bracelet to honor Andrew and his struggles. Being his mom’s best friend, she knew that creating custom bracelets was my passion, and we would create something amazing. I never thought something that hit so close to home would cross paths with my passion.
But I really want to share this personal journey and process for two reasons:
1. Spread awareness about the travesty of opioid addiction
2. Share how the process of creating this special bracelet was healing and comforting.
Above all, it gave Andrews friends and family a unifying talisman to wear in his honor and to remember him daily.
The “Hammer” Bracelet
Andrew had a hammer tattoo on his forearm. It was a defining and very personal symbol for him. Laura and William wanted a hammer in the design, and they wanted a unisex bracelet that all could wear. They also wanted his initials, A.C.D, and the word he ended poignant sentences with DEED. Together we designed a black leather wrap bracelet with a large “hammer” charm that doubled as a closure hook. We put two special beads, one with A.C.D and another with DEED, and, finally, the A.C.D Memorial Hammer Bracelet was born.
When creating a custom bracelet, we like to include a descriptive card to accompany it. The card we created for Andrew’s bracelet had a photo of him and his signature hammer tattoo with this inscription:
“In celebration of Andrew “Chuck D” Derwin. He fought the fight, made us laugh and lived the DEED. Wear this to show support to help provide scholarships to aspiring students in the performing arts.”
Andrew’s brother William went to work setting up a fund with the Fordham School (where Andrew played football). He began fundraising online through Facebook and a shopping cart. Through the cart, he set up ways to receive donations for the memorial bracelet, for the scholarship, and entry tickets to the Memorial Event. View the CART here,
The Andrew Derwin Memorial Event
October 15th, 2017 William and Laura, along with friends and family, all pitched in and gathered together to remember and celebrate the life of Andrew Derwin. Over 100 people attended on that brisk fall day filled with homemade food, including Andrew’s favorite sausage and peppers, lots of yummy sides and desserts, and even hot dogs from his Uncle Steven’s hot dog cart, “Papa Joes.” Andrews talented step brothers played music and even learned Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” to play as the theme song. Attendees participated in a cornhole competition and spent precious time remembering Andrew. There was plenty to remember as he brought smiles and laughs to them all.
Everyone left the memorial with a hammer bracelet to remember Andrew by. The memorial bracelets were provided to attendees with the opportunity to give an optional donation. In addition to the $7,995 raised by William’s pre-event efforts, we were able to raise $1,450 for the scholarship fund. To date, we have been able to raise $15,000 with this moving tribute to Andrew’s memory.
We wanted to share photos of this precious memorial in order to celebrate Andrew’s life.
Do You Know Someone Struggling With Addiction? You Can Help.
We hope that you will unite with us in memory of Andrew and anyone affected by the national drug epidemic and opioid addiction. This is a national problem affecting many. It’s important to realize overdoses have quadrupled since 1999, and are frequently highest among men between the ages of 25 and 54. But the gap between men and women is steadily closing in. Prescription pain medicines are just the beginning. The increase in deaths due to fentanyl over the last few years have been caused by illicit forms mixed into street drugs and counterfeit pills. Unfortunately, the sickness continues to grow, but there is help out there.
If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, there are many resources out there including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Click here for their resources including educational tools about addiction to helping locate a treatment center. Do you have other resources to share with our community? Let us know and we will gladly share that information.
If you would like to contribute to Andrew’s custom memorial bracelet and/or purchase one, CLICK HERE
On a personal note: Thank you to Laura, William, and Anthony (who funded their creation). I am honored and touched to be able to contribute to the memory of Andrew by creating The Hammer Bracelet.
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