Brent's Club Honors Son Lost to Drugs - NBC Southern California
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Brent's Club Honors Son Lost to Drugs

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Robert Shapiro Trying to Breaking the Chain of Drug Addiction in Kids

    In honor of his son, who died due to a drug overdose, attorney Robert Shapiro focused on reaching young people. Carolyn Johnson and Tommy Bravo reports for NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Dec. 9, 2018. (Published Monday, Dec. 10, 2018)

    For attorney Robert Shapiro and his wife, losing their son Brent 13 years ago to drugs was a horrible tragedy. But from that tragedy grew something remarkable - the Brent Shapiro Foundation for drug prevention.

    When Brent was a teenager, he started experimenting with drugs and alcohol and eventually going through rehab several times. By his early 20's, he was sober and succeeding at USC with a plan to attend law school, until he broke his sobriety in 2005.

    "He took half an ecstasy and 2 shots of Jägermeister and he got very sick," Roberts Shapiro said. "His girlfriend at the time decided, let's take him home and let him sleep it off."

    Brent never woke up. As his parents struggled with their grief, they knew they wanted to create something in Brent's honor to protect other children and families from their pain.

    "The idea was to let people know that this was a disease and that it was a treatable disease, but not a curable disease," Robert said.

    Shapiro and his wife started the Brent Shapiro Foundation focusing on drug prevention and awareness, with the primary goal of reaching young people.

    He approached the Variety Boys and Girls Club in Boyle Heights with the idea of Brent's Club, which would offer academic support, mentorship and unique opportunities for middle and high schoolers. Brent's Club also offers young people the opportunity to tour college campuses, going to Dodgers games and even meeting their favorite players, and there's only one condition to do this.

    These perks come with one condition. The kids have to consent to random drug tests to prove they are sober. The theory being any drug use could be caught early and treated before it grows into a life-threatening addiction.

    Dr. Jeffrey Wilkins is part of the Brent's Club Board of Directors. He believes that drug testing may actually help when it comes to peer pressure.

    "We're giving the kid a way that they can say if somebody is putting pressure on them, 'Look man I'm part of a club that requires I do this, so I can't do that,'" he said.

    Chris Fuentes joined the Club when he was 10-years-old. He's now a freshman at Cal Poly Pomona with a scholarship from the Brent Shapiro Foundation.

    "The club has really provided me with a sort of safe haven to stay away from the bad influences," Fuentes said.

    Setting your goals is a key in Brent's Club because it motivates its members and keeps them out of trouble.

    "That's one of the best protective factors against substance abuse, a plan for the future and that's exactly what we're doing here," said Susana Magana, Senior program Director.

    The foundation started with 20 kids. Five years later, more than 1,500 children have gone through he program.

    As for Robert Shapiro, he's sure that Brent would be happy with what his parents have achieved.

    "He'd have a big smile on his face. One of the things our family has come to realize and believe is it takes a life to save a life," Shapiro said.

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