On March 12, 2013, Andy Rumford’s life changed forever. “Kacie didn’t come home the night before. I was up early that morning and at 6 a.m. She comes in and I sat her down in the chair and I was very upset with her. I let her know it in no uncertain terms, for a good ten minutes, that we knew she was a heroin addict again and she needed help. I said I’ll be back later on and we’ll discuss that. That was about six in the morning. I went to work and came back about 12:30 p.m. I didn’t see Kacie’s handbag, so I jumped on a conference call real quick for work. At about 2 p.m. we couldn’t find her so I opened the door to her bedroom,” said Kacie’s father Andy Rumford.
It’s a day he will never forget. “She was kneeling on her floor, and her arms were on her bed outstretched with a needle next to her arm. I pulled her hair back and saw that her lips were blue. I gave her CPR and mouth-to-mouth. She was gone,” said Rumford. Kacie died of a heroin overdose.
He never expected this to happen to his daughter. “Kacie was a wild-eyed wonder; just full of life. Loved to go to the beach, loved to go to the mountains, spend time with her friends, go to concerts, listen to music, have fun in the park, just a typical teenager young adult,” said Rumford.
But heroin doesn’t discriminate, and Rumford wants parents to know that. “Trust your instincts as a parent. If you think something is wrong it probably is. It doesn’t make any difference if you son or daughter is a star athlete, a cheerleader, a scholar. They’ll protect it well, they will lie to you, they will manipulate you in ways that you have never imagined in your life,” said Rumford.
Kacie’s addiction started with pills. “The prescription pills is where it went to, and then eventually for whatever reason it progressed to the heroin,” said Rumford. “Since most of this seems to be starting with prescription drugs, number one, if you’re finished taking any sort of prescription drug, get rid of it. Number two, lock them up.”
“This can happen to anyone at any time, don’t think this can’t happen to you, talk to your children, get involved in their life,” said Rumford. “If you don’t do something , your child could end up a statistic, like Kacie is now.”
Andy Rumford created Kacie’s Cause in her memory. One of the main points he wants to get across is the warning signs. “She would always be tired, it would be one o’clock, two o’clock in the afternoon and she was always sleeping. That’s a warning sign, we should have known. And she would say, dad, I haven’t eaten in a few days. Some of these things they present themselves, but as a parent you’re so close to your child, you’re trying to fix the problem with your child, and not really looking at your child from ten feet away and saying what’s wrong with this behavior,” said Rumford. “It manifested itself into staying out later, and even though we set the rules down, she broke them repeatedly.”
Eventually the bigger picture started becoming more clear. “We’ve had wedding rings taken, my wedding ring is gone, my wife’s diamond rings are gone, money is gone, other household things of value are gone. She had no recourse, she didn’t know what else to do. There was nothing else in life that would make her feel as good as this drug, and she needed to feel good,” said Rumford. “If you know these warning signs and you’re looking out for them, then you have a chance of saving your child’s life,” said Andy.
His family tried everything to help Kacie overcome her addiction but with Kacie being an adult she couldn’t be forced to go or stay in rehab.
So now her family is left to mourn, and cherish the memories they have of Kacie.
“We visit her crypt often. We read books, we sit and talk. We had her for 23 wonderful years and she should have never gone. There’s no more christmas times, opening stockings, none of it, and it rips your heart out,” said Rumford. “I know that Kacie’s in peace now. She’s at peace. she’s resting and she’s no longer chasing this dragon anymore. She’s not chasing this drug. But the problem is, you wake up every morning and you kiss a cardboard picture of her. And you spray some perfume that reminded you of her. And reminded you of your last hugs with her. You just want to hear that one more time, hey dad I’m home, and you know that’s never going to come again. You sit and cry, and you do the best you can. They say that each day gets better, well it doesn’t. And I don’t really suspect that it will.”
Kacie’s Cause has blue bracelets and ribbons to spread awareness; they signify the blue heroin bags.