Nearly 5 years after his death, Taylor Watford’s light still shines bright

5k run and walk raises funds to help those facing mental illness and addiction
Published: May. 16, 2023 at 3:24 PM EDT

WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Jade Watford describes her brother Taylor as a “goofball” who would play constant pranks and crack constant jokes.

He had a smile that could light up a room. He was the light... and life of the party.

On the football field at Brookland Cayce High School Taylor excelled, but he also was very protective of his younger sister.

“As an older brother, he was definitely that older brother stereotype for me,” Jade explains.

“The boys knew to watch out, he was coming for them. He was just a protector and natural caregiver.”

But behind the smile, the athletic skills, and caregiving, there was a shadow he just couldn’t shake.

“There really weren’t a whole lot of signs,” Jade said. “He didn’t fit the mold for what we thought.

of someone who would struggle with addiction. It just kind of goes to show that addiction

doesn’t discriminate. It can affect any type of person. Especially the star athletes. people

you aren’t necessarily looking for the signs for.”

Taylor’s battle with drug addiction spanned 8 years.

After two years of sobriety, finally at the end of 2018, it seemed like things were getting brighter.

“We actually said after he walked out the door from Christmas, ‘That was the best holiday we’ve had in 10 years.’

He seems happy, he seems recovered. We’re so happy to have the new ‘him’ “.

But his addiction, and a fateful decision just days later, dimmed his light forever.

“It was just two days later after Christmas, he thought he could use just one more time

after running into an old friend. Unbeknownst to him the heroin had loads of fentanyl in it, and he was just killed instantly.

That was completely devastating.”

Within a month... the grieving Watford family...

knew his death would not be in vain, so they began a non-profit that would bear his name: The Taylor Watford Foundation.

The foundation was connect those struggling with mental health and addiction to the help they need.

A need that is growing by the day.

“That’s what we’re trying to get in front of everyone in South Carolina.

One pill can kill. I think the DEA estimates that one half of any drug

you buy on the street, there’s about a 50% chance that its laced with fentanyl.

And what we’re trying to tell everyone is that’s the flip of a coin.

Your life is worth a lot more than a flip of a coin.”

In their effort to save others from a fate like that of Taylor’s,

They see traces of his light everywhere.

“There are hundreds of people who come to our events,

or have gotten involved with us because they knew Taylor.

How do they know Taylor? They met him at a recovery meeting,

and they shared their life story and were best friends for three hours.

And now they want to do their part and carry on,” Jade explained.

“So now it’s like all these pieces of him that he left...are coming together now. "

The Taylor Watford 5K Run and Walk happens this Saturday morning at Brookland Cayce High School in West Columbia.

For more information including a link to register, head click here.

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