Lu Parker sits down with the couple who have been married nearly 50 years.
If you take a moment to think about it, chances are you know someone who struggles with alcohol or drug addiction. The truth hits close to home way too often for many of us. I admit, it continues to affect my family, but that is a story I am not ready to tell.
I have watched friends nearly drink themselves out of a job, a relationship, and even a life. You may be reading this and thinking you too may have an unhealthy connection to alcohol, drugs or even prescription medications.
Recently, I have been paying more attention to the affects of drug and alcohol addiction after meeting and getting to know Robert and Linell Shapiro. Robert, of course, is known worldwide for his role as defense attorney during the infamous O.J. Simpson trial. He is also one of the founders of the online legal company, Legal Zoom. Now he and his wife are also focused on philanthropy after their oldest son Brent died tragically from complications of mixing illegal drugs and alcohol back in 2005.
Since Brent's death at age 24, the Shapiros work tirelessly to make sure this never happens to another family. Shortly after Brent's death, the couple, who have been together now nearly 50 years, created the Brent Shapiro Foundation which focuses on fighting drug abuse and dependency. In recent years the Shaprios have been focused on a specific project called Brent’s Club. The program partners with Boys and Girls Clubs of America and encourages youth 11-17 years of age to stay sober. The young members agree to random non-evasive saliva drug tests. If they test negative, the youth are then rewarded with electronics, field trips, and other prizes.
Since the inception of the six clubs, the program has a 100% success rate. I believe that number is a testament that the younger generation wants to make a change. They are proving they want to succeed! Robert and Linell and their son Grant offer them that opportunity every day. To top it off, if a Brent's Club member stays sober and completes the program, they are offered a full scholarship to the college of their choice.
I recently sat down with Robert and Linell at their home. They shared with me Brent's story of addiction and described to me how they want their son to be remembered. We also talked about commitment. They have been married since 1970. Robert and Linell have endured the media exposure of the O.J. Simpson trial together and the tragic loss of their oldest son Brent. Some might say those circumstances would simply prove to be too much for a couple to survive, but the Shapiros have a much different view.
Brent Shapiro Foundation is 100% volunteer.
More blogs and interviews by Lu Parker here.