LANCASTER, N.Y. (WIVB) — Strength embodies Jeanine Babcock. She’s reminded each day by the bracelet on her wrist and she still remembers the day her son Brian gave it to her.
“A mom always wants a mom bracelet, you know but he bought me one that represented strength because that’s how he looked at me, as being a strong woman,” said Jeanine Babcock. “So I know I need to uphold that for him because I know he’s watching over me.”
Lancaster native, Brian Babcock was kind, empathetic and full of life. “His smile would just light up the room because you could just see and feel his love that he had for everyone,” she said.
He was a good student, a multi-sport athlete and a talented artist, who was always up for an adventure.
In fact, there’s not much he hadn’t done. “He played the drums, he snowboarded, boats, ATV’s — anything that went fast,” said Babcock.
But just days after his 24th birthday, that light that shined so bright — suddenly and tragically went dark.
“We thought he was taking a nap in his room and we found him 14 hours later. He had been on the floor, with no signs of anything around him so we didn’t know how he had passed,” she said. “Come to find out from the toxicology report, it was cocaine laced with fentanyl.”
Brian was a victim of the growing fentanyl epidemic, a silent killer claiming the lives of thousands of Americans every year. “They are putting fentanyl in marijuana, they are putting it in cocaine, she said. “They are putting it in whatever they are selling.”
According to the drug enforcement administration, just two milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal, depending on the person’s body size and tolerance.
Five years after his death, Jeanine is sharing her son’s story to raise awareness and in the hopes of preventing other parent’s from experiencing the same pain. “How many kids are going to have to lose their lives before these children realize there is more out there that can make them happy and that they don’t need to use drugs,” said Babcock.
“I have two choices,” she said. “I can shut down and not live my life or I can do what Brian would want me to do.”
So Jeanine created “Blessed by Brian,” and has raised $14,000, with the help of the Lancaster community.
She’s working with the village to build a new splash pad, behind Como Park Elementary, in Brian’s honor. “An area where people can come together and enjoy family time because that’s what was important to Brian,” she said.
The project has been a labor of love, but Jeanine says she finds her strength through her son and keeping his memory alive. “I want people to wonder who is that Brian Babcock, you know?” she said. “He was too good of a person to not keep his name going,” she said.
The splash pad being created in Brian’s honor is set to open Memorial Day. Jeanine is about halfway to her goal of $30,000 but needs the community’s help to make it happen.
If you’d like to donate head here.
Gabrielle Mediak is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.
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If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, help is available. Erie County’s Crisis Hotline is available 24 hours a day: 716-834-3131. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available 24 hours a day: 1-800-273-8255. For more information, visit CrisisServices.org.
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