COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - As South Carolina state lawmakers travel and hold public hearings for input on cracking the opioid epidemic, one father who lost two of his sons to drug overdoses is speaking out.
There was emotional testimony in the first meeting state representatives held on an opioid abuse task force held in Greenville on Wednesday night.
Steve gr ant's heartbreaking story of loss has inspired him to try to help others through the nonprofit he started, the Chris and Kelly's HOPE Foundation.
Gr ant has at least two reasons to warn people of the dangers of drugs like opioids, including heroin.
"They're buried not very far from here, and I don't go there often, I go here a lot more often than I'll go to the cemetery," Gr ant said as he visited the park he's donated toward in his sons' honor.
His older son Chris, and younger son Kelly both died from overdoses.
"Found both of my kids in my house. It's very tough to find your children dead in your house and watch body bags leave the door," Gr ant said.
Methadone and cocaine killed Chris, an aspiring athlete, when he was 21 years old. He battled addiction for 8 years. Heroin killed Kelly when he was 24, after fighting addiction for 8 months.
Gr ant has good days and bad, remembering the sons he lost.
"But you know, you're driving down the road and you see something and every day I think about them. And some days it's not good. But it's rarely that those times are not good," he said.
He's working to help others through the Chris and Kelly HOPE Foundation, as lawmakers take ideas from the public, survivors and victims, on how changes to the state law could save lives and curb the heroin epidemic that's holding steady.
"Oh, they light a fire, extreme motivation. I don't want to hear another story about a family who has suffered a loss - I get those phone calls almost daily - anymore. Facebook comments, people reaching out, what do I do, how do I help my family member..." Rep. Eric Bedingfield (R) Greenville says.
Bedingfield lost his own son to a heroin overdose and now chairs the committee of lawmakers working to fight the epidemic in South Carolina.
Gr ant's goal is to reach those addicted, especially adolescents, and help them through his foundation.
"But my kids would know and I'm sure they're looking down on me saying 'Dad's doing exactly what he's supposed to.' Their peers tell me that all the time."