A raw documentary that took two years to complete, is still capturing audience’s attention- three years after its release.
Kids Are Dying digs deep into the core of addiction, all the while tugging at the heartstrings. Michael DeLeon was on a mission: “Addiction can happen to anyone, and we have kids out there dying.” Troubled by the rising death toll attributable to the escalating drug epidemic, Michael pounded the pavement in search of those suffering, hopeful he could help them, and hopeful he could reach thousands with this powerful message.
It is often misconstrued that only, ‘the bad kids do drugs,’ but in this documentary, you will see just how ill-informed that statement is. As one person in the documentary claims, “It isn’t biased; it can happen to anyone at any time. Addiction can take you from, Park Avenue, to park bench.” Whether you live in the suburbs, or in ‘the bad part of town,’ addiction can hit close to home, or even worse- IN YOUR HOME.
Unfortunately, not all of those who participated in the documentary, are here with us today. As sad as that fact is, there are survivors; and I had the pleasure of speaking with one of them – Dorothy Sword. Michael met Dorothy when she was strolling the streets of Camden – homeless, shoeless, and broke. Today, Dorothy is so proud of her accomplishments: having her own apartment for the first time, keeping a steady job, and yes, she is proud she has her own bills to pay! Within ten seconds of beginning my conversation with Dorothy, I knew she didn’t take one breath (or bill), for granted. She was living a life that she never thought she’d have, and she explained, “I have Michael to thank. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be alive today.” Then adding, “He gave me money for a pair of shoes, and I didn’t think I was worth any attention from anybody.” As our conversation continued, she had me tearing up, as I was overcome with pride for this amazing woman.
During the documentary, Michael asked her where she saw herself in a year. Her reply, “Hopefully dead.” Dorothy’s pain was so immense as she suffered on the inside. Michael showed her just how much worth she really had; and with incessant support from him and loving words of encouragement from her family (especially her aunt, uncle, and parents), she now wakes up thankful to see another day.
Dorothy’s message: “If I can do it, you can do it. You could get anything out life, you just have to want it.”
• Jessica Osborn
DOROTHY SWORD NOW: