EAST MARLBOROUGH—A Kennett Square man would not be alive today if 23-year-old Kacie Rumford hadn’t died of a drug overdose in her bedroom five years ago.

Kacie’s father, Andy, started Kacie’s Cause, a non-profit organization aimed at helping those with drug addiction, soon after she died. Today, the organization has seven chapters – five in Chester County – with plans to open a recovery home for women battling drug addiction in Kennett Square. Volunteers at Kacie’s Cause hold weekly support groups throughout Chester County.

One Kennett Square mother began attending meetings at First Baptist Church in Kennett Square because she suspected her 27-year-old son was using drugs. But recently, she stopped coming to the meetings.

“Then on Thursday she came to the meeting and asked if we had Narcan,” said Luis Tovar, a volunteer at Kacie’s Cause. “So we gave it to her and trained her how to use it. Then the following Saturday, she came home, and found her son lethargic, passed out on the floor with a heroin overdose. She administered Narcan and called 911, all the steps we trained her to do a couple of days before.”

Tovar said the man’s mother likely saved his life.

“If mom didn’t have Naloxone (Narcan), he probably would have died,” said Andy Rumford, founder of Kacie’s cause. “We give (Narcan) out for free, and we think we are saving lives.”

Narcan Nasal Spray is administered in the nostril and does not require evidence of breathing through the nose during administration. When someone takes an overdose of opioids, the opiates overwhelm certain areas in the brain and interrupt a key part of the body's impulse to breathe. Severe breathing problems often lead to brain injury or death. Narcan effectively reverses the effect of opioid overdose in two to three minutes.

Kacie’s Cause partners with the Chester County Drug and Alcohol Council, and receives Narcan for free. To date, the Council has given Kacie’s Cause 1,200 doses of Narcan, and the organization distributed 950 to the community, often at town hall meetings, community events, support groups and educational programs at high schools.

Rumford said he often gets emails from parents telling him he saved their child’s life after administering Narcan they got from Kacie’s Cause.

Rumford keeps a detailed spreadsheet of where the Narcan was distributed, how much was given out, and submits it to county officials. Narcan costs about $76 for two doses.

“If you are in Chester County, we train you how to use Narcan, give it to you and say, here, go safe a life,” Rumford said.

Kacie’s Cause, which has chapters in Kennett Square, Coatesville, Exton, Oxford, Parkesburg, Newark, De;, and the Pocono region, may soon have a recovery house for women in Kennett Square, Earlier this month, the organization hired Kristine Parkes, who has worked as a public relations with Kennett Consolidated School District, to help with fundraising efforts and to write grants.

“The closest recovery home right now is in Phoenixville,” Rumford said. “We’re looking for a house in Kennett.”

For that to happen, a lot of money must be raised, and that’s where Parkes will help. Beside online donations, Kacie’s Cause gets financial assistance from the Longwood Rotary Club and a few annual events, such as Mother’s Day Walk for Awareness and the fifth annual Cars for Kacie that will take place Oct. 6 at Downingtown High School. It is the largest recovery car show on the East Coast, featuring hundreds of classic and antique cars and 40 floor trophies.

And Rumford said he believes in giving back to the community. His organization awards two annual $1,000 scholarships at local high schools, provides assistance in hekping families get resources and placement in a rehab, awards treatment recovery scholarships and makes prom dresses to less fortunate young women who can’t afford them.

Opioids, often heroin laced with the painkiller fentanyl, kills about 10 people every day in Pennsylvania. In Chester County alone, 547 died of drug overdoses in the past three years, according to the DEA’s Philadelphia division. Nearly 69 percent of those drug overdose deaths were men, 90.5 percent of whom were white. Nearly 47 percent were in the age range of 25 to 44.

Rumford still struggles with her daughter’s death. Kacie Rumford attended Greenwood Elementary and it was after Kennett High were she was exposed to drugs. It wasn't until after high school that she graduated to heroin. She attended Penn State, Brandywine campus. She would drop in and out of college, and was never able to consistently hold a job.

When she wasn't making money from a job, she got it from home. She would tell her father she needed money for new pants, or that a friend needed money for a doctor's visit.

And household items the Rumsfords could never find they now realize was likely stolen by Kacie to purchase drugs.

The money, of course, was to feed her ever-growing heroin habit. The average cost of a single dose of heroin in Chester County (purchased on the street, average quality) is approximately $10 - $25. Someone with a heroin habit may pay $150 to $200 per day in order to support their habit.

“Heroin is easier to find than pot in Chester County,” Rumford said. “Kacey bought her heroin near the Garage (Youth Center) in Kennett Square. Kids don’t need to go to Wilmington anymore. It’s so easy to find.”

Tovar said the message Kacie’s Cause brings is awareness.

“People are dying,” he said. “We are talking to every school district. John (Sanville, superintendent of the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District) would say it’s here, just like at Kennett and Avon Grove. Kids today have access to it.”

Said Rumford: “We’re trying to reach thousands of people, that’s why we need to open a recovery house.”

Kacie’s Cause has grown substantially recently, and has formed alliances with the Chester County Drug and Alcohol Center, Pro-Act Chester County, the YMCA of Greater Brandyiwne, Young People in Recovery, Caron Treatment Centers, Bridge Way Sober Living House, Chester County District Attorney’s Office and local businesses, police departments and churches.

Rumford believes his daughter is saving lives today, through Kacie’s Cause.

“I am the dad who lost his child, and that’s the heart and soul of what we do,” he said.

Support group meetings are held every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Parkesburg Point Chapel in Parkesburg, and every Thursday at 7 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in Kennett Square. Drop-ins are welcome.

To volunteer or help Kacie’s cause, contact Andy Rumford at 610-742-5249, or Luis Tovar at 484-888-9682, or emailAndy.CacieCause@gmail.com. Donations can be made through the organization’s web site at www.kaciescause.com.

comments powered by Disqus