Mottley Law Firm March 2020

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THE MOTTLEY CREW REVIEW

www.MottleyLawFirm.com | (804) 823-2011

HOW 1 FAMILY TURNS PAIN INTO PURPOSE

A SCHOOL FOR EDUCAT ION AND RECOVERY

I have a special place in my heart for anyone who’s been through a personal tragedy. But I am especially touched by people who persevered through that tragedy and went on to help others. No one exemplifies that more than my friends, Taylor and Kerri Rhodes. We’ve known the Rhodes family since our boys were small. When our kids were young, the Rhodes family and our family bonded through Little League baseball. One year, when my son, Andrew, and the Rhodes’ son, Taylor Jr., were on the same Little League team, we coached together. Taylor Sr. then went on to coach the boys’ travel baseball team. Man, those were awesome times! “KERRI AND TAYLOR MADE IT CLEAR AT TAYLOR JR.’S CELEBRATION OF LIFE THAT IT WAS NOT THE END. IT WOULD BE THE BEGINNING OF CHANGING THE CONVERSATION AROUND ADDICTION AND MENTAL HEALTH IN THIS COUNTRY. THEY ARE GOING TO FOCUS THEIR ENERGY, RESOURCES, AND PASSION ON DOING THEIR PART TO ELIMINATE THE STIGMA TOWARD THOSE WHO SUFFER FROM ADDICTION AND MENTAL ILLNESS.” Unfortunately, Kerri and Taylor tragically lost Taylor Jr. in June 2019 to an overdose of fentanyl-laced heroin. It was a crushing tragedy for our community and everyone who knows the Rhodes family. “It started with a shoulder surgery and a bottle of Percocet to manage his pain,

and that was the beginning,” recalls Kerri. Taylor Sr. says, “Taylor’s brain lit up, and according to Taylor, it was the first time he felt ‘normal.’ He didn’t feel depressed, and from that moment forward, he was in the fight of his life.” Over the ensuing five years, Kerri and Taylor fought a daily battle to get Taylor Jr. the help he needed. What they discovered was that the available options were either not up to the task or nonexistent. “It was fragmented and siloed,” recalls Taylor Sr. when referring to the care Taylor Jr. received from the various treatment and rehabilitation centers. Most of these centers focused on the substance abuse and excluded the underlying mental health conditions from which Taylor Jr. suffered. Compounding the situation was the fact that Taylor was in high school trying to stay on course to graduate without getting adequate support from schools that were simply ill-equipped to support a student

suffering from a substance use disorder. The school system’s approach has been to suspend, expel, or put these students on homebound instruction because there are no in-house programs or resources to address addiction, and up to this point, it has not been recognized as the brain disease that it is. The tragedy the Rhodes family lived through is unfortunately all too common, but the way they have responded has been anything but. Kerri, a mental health clinician with 28 years of experience and a counselor with Henrico County Public Schools, says, “I tell myself over and over that what our family has been through will not be for nothing.” And that is where the rest of the story begins. Kerri and Taylor made it clear at Taylor Jr.’s celebration of life that it was not the end. It would be the beginning of changing the conversation around addiction

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