An Orcutt mother doesn’t want others to feel the pain experienced by her family after the death of her son, Jaycob Murillo, due to a drug overdose.
“If I can help anybody, that’s my goal, and if I can even do that for one kid or one family, then I’ve done my job,” Danielle Murillo said.
Jaycob Murillo died at the age of 27 in 2018 after overdosing on heroin while living in Huntington Beach
His mom has funneled her grief into an event planned from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Rod Rodenberger Park, 2725 Santa Barbara Drive, in Santa Maria.
Information booths will be set up by the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley, Victory Outreach and addiction support groups. Also on hand will be the Santa Maria police DARE vehicle, and there will be fitness demonstrations and more.
“When you feel good about yourself, you tend to not want to do negative things, so I wanted to bring that positive energy into it,” Danielle Murillo said.
Santa Barbara also will mark International Overdose Awareness Day with at least two events.
Family members and friends are invited to paint their loved one’s name on an all-white Cessna aircraft, speak their name and ring a bell in their memory. Participants should bring a framed 8 x 10 photograph of the person(s) they are remembering for a special part of the ceremony.
Also, a community walk and beach ceremony will start at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Mission Harbor Behavioral Health office, 403 E. Montecito St., Suite A. Participants will wear purple and silver.
After her son’s death, Murillo realized she could curl into a ball of grief or do something; she chose action.
Plans for a family gathering to mark a year after her son’s death have grown into a community event to help spread the story of Jaycob, who graduated from Righetti High School in 2009, and the dangers of drug use.
“I woke up one morning, and I feel like he came to me in a dream is how this all started,” she said, adding that she decided to invite organizations to host booths “to spread awareness about this horrible disease.”
A flier includes the smiling face of Jaycob, whom she remembers as smart and witty, someone who could take apart electronics and rebuild them without any lessons.
“Some of his jokes still make me laugh today,” she added.
He was fascinated by drones, and hoped to find a way to make a living with them.
In hindsight, Murillo figures Jaycob probably had used drugs for 10 years, but she only learned little bits during his sober periods.
While Jaycob was living with his dad in Costa Mesa, a needle fell from his clothing, providing proof of his dangerous disease. Jaycob was given a choice — go live on the streets or go to rehab immediately.
“You think that there’s something happening, but when reality hits, it’s really hard to take in,” she said.
For five years, Jaycob was in and out of rehab, but the disease of addiction ultimately won.
She hopes to help another family avoid the same tragedy.
“You have to be very tuned in to what your kids are doing,” she said. “If there’s anything that’s out of the ordinary, then it’s probably out of the ordinary. Question everything. Don’t give them the benefit of the doubt.
“Don’t be afraid that you’re going to hurt their feelings, because you may end up like me and not have them,” she said. “I don’t want other parents to have to go through the pain that we go through as a family daily.”
Murillo added that she hopes to create a nonprofit organization and scholarship in her son’s memory.