Skip to main content

Hard lessons and good advice as Kacie's Cause comes to Unionville High School

01/21/2014 01:25PM, Published by ACL, Categories: In Print, News


A display in the hallway held photos of those who have died from drug overdoses, including Kacie Rumford.



By John Chambless

Staff Writer

As the crowd began to fill the small auditorium at Unionville High School on Jan. 16, everyone had to walk past tables that held trifold displays of snapshots. The smiling people in the photos were young – some barely in their teens, others in their twenties and thirties – and they had all been lost to drug abuse. There were far too many of them.

Inside the auditorium, people filled nearly every seat and several stood at the back of the hall as the Kacie's Cause Community Town Hall began. 

Image title

Andy Rumford, of Kennett Square, started Kacie's Cause after his 23-year-old daughter, Kacie, died of a heroin overdose in 2013. The event on Jan. 16 was the eighth large-scale community meeting he has held in Chester County. At each one, he retells the story of how he found her lifeless body in her bedroom. On Jan. 16, some of the words still stuck in his throat as he addressed the crowd. 

“In the United States, 38,000 lives are lost each year to drug overdoses,” Rumford said. “You, as parents, need to change your thinking, or you could be burying your child.”

Kacie's Cause now has three chapters, based in Honey Brook, Oxford and Parkesburg. There are 14 people who keep the group running, and each meeting bring more volunteers – and more people needing help. In the ten months that the kaciescause.com website has been up, it has gotten more than 17,000 hits. 

“This area has a drug and heroin problem,” Rumford said. “The police are doing what they can, but they need help. We all have a common enemy, and that is heroin.”

Moderating the evening was Kacie's Cause member Luis Tovar, who told the crowd that his son

Image title

 is a long-term addict who is in recovery. “How many people here have lost someone to drugs?” Tovar asked. “More than one? How about more than five?” Each time, hands remained raised. 

Chuck Gaza, the Chester County Assistant District Attorney, told the crowd that he met Rumford when Kacie died. He helped find the drugs and empty heroin packets in Kacie's room, and he searched through Kacie's phone to begin tracking down her drug contacts. 

He spoke in favor of House Bill 1164, the so-called Good Samaritan Bill, which would absolve anyone who calls for help when someone is suffering an overdose. “Typically what we hear in overdose cases is, 'I didn't want to get in trouble,'” Gaza said. “Getting in trouble is the least of your problems when someone stops breathing.” The bill has made it through the Pennsylvania Senate and is now in the House.

Image title

In Chester County last year, 21 people died from heroin overdoses, Gaza said. An additional 31 died from prescription drug overdoses. For that reason, the state has put 10 drug drop boxes around Chester County where people can anonymously, and safely, dispose of leftover medications which are frequently a teen's first step toward addiction. 

The typical path, Gaza said, is sneaking some pills from the medicine cabinet. When swallowing the pills begins to not have a strong enough effect, teens crush them and snort them. When they try to buy more drugs like percocet or oxycontin on the street, the high cost turns them instead to heroin, which is being marketed for as little as $7 a bag. “They usually snort it at first, and then they shoot it, if they last that long,” Gaza said.

Instantly addictive, and therefore highly lucrative for dealers, heroin is now the preferred illegal drug, pushing aside cocaine.

One woman in the audience raised her hand and asked if there was heroin use at Unionville High School.

“Yes,” Gaza quickly answered as a few people in the audience gasped. “I can say unequivocally that there is heroin use at Unionville.”

Philadelphia is “one of the largest drug markets in the United States,” and Wilmington is another 

Image title

big supplier, Gaza said. With both cities a short drive away from Chester County, the region is being flooded with heroin. “Heroin is drastically on the rise,” he said. “And it's cheap. A bundle of 12 can cost $20 to $30. The amount of drugs going through this county would astound you.”

Gaza criticized the common practice of doctors and dentists precribing 30 painkillers when only four or five are necessary, leaving the family medicine cabinet full of unused pills. Also, it's common for smaller-scale dealers to get multiple prescriptions at several pharmacies and then sell the pills at a huge profit.

“While you were watching the video at the start of this evening, I got two texts,” Gaza said. “A 25-year-old man just died of an overdose in West Sadsbury. And a girl lost her arm when she crashed her car.” 

Gaza's eyes reddened as he continued, “I really hate coming to your house and ruining your life when your child has died, trying to find out who sold drugs to your kid. But we'll do it. And we'll keep on doing it.”

A woman in the audience told Gaza, “I'm from Unionville, and I have to admit I'm pretty clueless about all this. I have learned a lot in the last half-hour.”
John Sanville, the superintendent of the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District, was in the audience and pointed out that the Pennsylvania Youth Survey which went out last year to all students in grades six, eight, 10 and 12 “showed what risky behaviors our children are involved in. That information is readily available through the district office. … If we find a student with drugs, we do contact the DA, and we do contact the police.”

The surveys showed some students had used alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, but the incidence of hard drugs like heroin was small – about 2 percent or less. Tovar asked Sanville how many students are in the school district, and Sanville told him 4,100. “I applaud the efforts at Unionville, but even 2 percent of 4,100 students is not a low number,” Tovar said. “There's more to do.”

A woman in the audience said her name was Frances and that she has spent 10 years in recovery for alcohol abuse. She attends a regular meeting in Kennett Square, “and we're seeing more and more young kids who need help and have nowhere else to go,” she said. “We're not equipped to help them.”

Dr. Marc Grobman, who specializes in addiction treatment in Wilmington, Del., outlined how opiates affect a person, physically and mentally. “This is a long-term disease, like diabetes or hypertension,” he said. “You're never free of it. … And you can't tell who's going to be an addict.”

A young man stood up in the audience and challenged Grobman, saying that the recovery drugs that Grobman recommended hadn't worked. “I'm a recovering heroin addict. I hate them all,” he said of the range of drug treatments. “None of them helped me. NA (Narcotics Anonymous) helped me. You've got to find the right support network that works for you.”

Another recovering addict, a 19-year-old young woman, told the audience she started using drugs at 15 and has been clean for two and a half years. “I had a friend who was a straight-A student and he tried heroin for the first time and died because the bag had rat poison in it,” she said grimly. “I just want to tell parents that if you catch your kids, keep talking to them. Keep on them. Tell them they don't have to drink at a party – they can just hold a soda. Keep an open relationship with your kids and keep giving them tips.”

That doesn't mean coddling teens who make mistakes, according to Tovar and several of the recovering addicts who spoke.

One young man, Joe, said, “I'm a recovering addict, and I wish my parents had let me sit in jail or spend some time living on the streets when I was using. Man, I would have learned a lot faster.”

In the audience, a young man named Adam said he started using drugs at 13 and has been clean for almost a decade. He is now a counselor who works in drug treatment and prevention. “Addiction is a disease that hides in the shadows,” he said. “The best thing is to keep it in the light.”

While Rumford noted grimly that there was an empty seat at the family table for their first holiday season without Kacie, he told the audience at the end of the meeting that, “Today, everyone is leaving much wiser about this epidemic. This drug is not going to vanish. This meeting was for all of us. Talk to your children, and talk to your neighbors. Be a part of a young girl's dream – Kacie's dream – to make the world a better place.”

For more information, visit www.kaciescause.com.


Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Chester County's free newsletter to catch every headline



unionville high school heroin kacie's cause drugs kacie's cause community town hall


You might also like

Thumb_teachers

The required and acquired love of books

Local high schools' summer reading lists introduce students to both classics and modern literature.
Thumb_scout

Eagle Scout honored

A graduate of Unionville High School has earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

Two arrested for heroin distribution

Chester County District Attorney's Office said this is the first time that fentanyl-laced heroin has been found in the county during an investigation.

  • Sunday Brunch

    05/22/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • The Spayed Club now has THREE transport locations throughout the Greater Philadelphia area -- Pot...


  • Fitness Walks

    05/27/2015
    08:30am — 09:30am

    Turn off the treadmill and forget they gym! Start your day with an invigorating hour-long hike th...


  • Gentle Yoga

    05/27/2015
    05:00pm — 06:00pm

    Reduce the aches and pains of age by increasing your range of motion through the practice of yoga...


  • Join us at Child Guidance's Coatesville Office for an in-depth workshop that will address what is...


  • Hatha Yoga

    05/27/2015
    06:30pm — 07:30pm

    This series of vigorous exercises is designed to strengthen the body and increase flexibility whi...


  • Sunday Brunch

    05/28/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Heuchera: The Perfect Shade Plant

    05/28/2015
    01:00pm — 03:00pm

    Discover one of the most popular perennials for shade gardens. Mt. Cuba Center recently completed...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    05/28/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • Heart Health - Preventing Heart Disease & Strokes

    05/28/2015
    06:30pm — 07:30pm

    We will learn how healthier eating habits, a manageable fitness routine and simple stress managem...


  • Sunday Brunch

    05/22/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Annual Avon-Grove Memorial Parade

    05/23/2015
    09:00am — 12:00pm

    Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while ...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Sunday Brunch

    05/23/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Prehistoric Newlin Nature Walk

    05/23/2015
    01:30pm — 03:30am

    Become a time traveler in this exciting walk to explore signs of the Newlin Grist Mill nature par...


  • Philly POPS at Longwood Gardens for Memorial Day

    05/23/2015
    07:30pm — 09:00pm

    The upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend provides the perfect opportunity for The Philly POPS to...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    05/24/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    05/24/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    05/24/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    05/25/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Monday's are Whiskey nights at Minihane's

    05/25/2015
    05:00pm — 11:00pm

    Whisky is not the same as Whiskey! There is some debate about whether or not Scottish distill...


  • Catch living history as the Mohican Base Ball Club (Mohican BBC) of Kennett Square play a exhibit...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    05/25/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    05/26/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • The Spayed Club now has THREE transport locations throughout the Greater Philadelphia area -- Pot...


  • Fitness Walks

    05/27/2015
    08:30am — 09:30am

    Turn off the treadmill and forget they gym! Start your day with an invigorating hour-long hike th...


  • Gentle Yoga

    05/27/2015
    05:00pm — 06:00pm

    Reduce the aches and pains of age by increasing your range of motion through the practice of yoga...


  • Join us at Child Guidance's Coatesville Office for an in-depth workshop that will address what is...


  • Hatha Yoga

    05/27/2015
    06:30pm — 07:30pm

    This series of vigorous exercises is designed to strengthen the body and increase flexibility whi...


  • Sunday Brunch

    05/28/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Heuchera: The Perfect Shade Plant

    05/28/2015
    01:00pm — 03:00pm

    Discover one of the most popular perennials for shade gardens. Mt. Cuba Center recently completed...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    05/28/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • Heart Health - Preventing Heart Disease & Strokes

    05/28/2015
    06:30pm — 07:30pm

    We will learn how healthier eating habits, a manageable fitness routine and simple stress managem...


  • DFVA Greenville Summer Art Show

    05/29/2015
    10:00am — 07:00pm

    An impressive group of over thirty outstanding professional artists from the Brandywine Valley ar...


  • DFVA Summer Art Show

    05/29/2015
    10:00am — 07:00pm

    An impressive group of outstanding professional artists from the Brandywine Valley area will exhi...


  • Sunday Brunch

    05/29/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • PurpleStride Delaware 2015 - 5K Run/Walk

    05/30/2015
    08:00am — 11:00am

    The Delaware Affiliate of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is hosting its third annual Purple...


  • PurpleStride Delaware 2015 - 5K Run/Walk

    05/30/2015
    08:00am — 11:00am

    PurpleStride 2015 is a 5K run and family friendly walk. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is b...


  • Multi-Family Yard Sale in Oxford

    05/30/2015
    09:00am — 03:00pm

    Electronics, tools, baby clothes, toys, kitchen, bath, bedding, decorations, crafts and so much more


  • CLAY MONOPRINTING WITH MITCH LYONS

    05/30/2015
    10:00am — 04:00pm

    CLAY MONOPRINTING WITH MITCH LYONS Level: All levels, Limit: 10 students Instructor: Mitch Lyon...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • DFVA Greenville Summer Art Show

    05/30/2015
    10:00am — 07:00pm

    An impressive group of over thirty outstanding professional artists from the Brandywine Valley ar...


  • DFVA Summer Art Show

    05/30/2015
    10:00am — 07:00pm

    An impressive group of outstanding professional artists from the Brandywine Valley area will exhi...


  • OA-BEST Expo

    05/30/2015
    10:00am — 02:00pm

    FUN FOR ALL! The Chester and Lancaster County communities have always been tied deeply to the ro...


  • Sunday Brunch

    05/30/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Explore Native Orchids

    05/30/2015
    01:00pm — 03:00pm

    Discover what makes native orchids so special. Join Smithsonian’s orchid expert Tom Mirenda as he...


  • Pawty at the Preserve

    05/30/2015
    03:00pm — 07:00pm

    Join Canine Partners for Life at Pawty at the Preserve, as we celebrate 25 years of creating life...


  • Multi-Family Yard Sale in Oxford

    05/31/2015
    09:00am — 03:00pm

    Electronics, tools, baby clothes, toys, kitchen, bath, bedding, decorations, crafts and so much more


  • CLAY MONOPRINTING WITH MITCH LYONS

    05/31/2015
    10:00am — 04:00pm

    CLAY MONOPRINTING WITH MITCH LYONS Level: All levels, Limit: 10 students Instructor: Mitch Lyon...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    05/31/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    05/31/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    05/31/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    06/01/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Monday's are Whiskey nights at Minihane's

    06/01/2015
    05:00pm — 11:00pm

    Whisky is not the same as Whiskey! There is some debate about whether or not Scottish distill...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    06/01/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    06/02/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Wilmington Handbell Ensemble Concert

    06/02/2015
    07:30pm — 08:15pm

    Presents our spring concert program, "March On"


  • Gentle Yoga

    06/03/2015
    05:00pm — 06:00pm

    Reduce the aches and pains of age by increasing your range of motion through the practice of yoga...


  • Hatha Yoga

    06/03/2015
    06:30pm — 07:30pm

    This series of vigorous exercises is designed to strengthen the body and increase flexibility whi...


  • Sunday Brunch

    06/04/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    06/04/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • 5th Annual Twisted Vintner

    06/04/2015
    06:00pm — 09:00pm

    Concordville - Chadds Ford Rotary's fundraiser to support local charities includes Wine, Beer and...


  • Sunday Brunch

    06/05/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • On June 6th, the Avon Grove High School Football Team will be hosting a community yard sale. Tab...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Sunday Brunch

    06/06/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • 2015 Chester County Blues Barbeque

    06/06/2015
    02:00pm — 07:00pm

    The Chester County Blues BBQ is an annual event sponsored by the Coventry Lions Club featuring re...


  • Sustainable Splurges: A Feast for the Senses

    06/06/2015
    06:00pm — 08:00pm

    Enjoy delicious, locally made foods – wine, chocolate, honey and cheese – while roaming an exclu...


  • 150th Anniversary Civil War Reconciliation Ball

    06/06/2015
    06:00pm — 10:00pm

    Dinner, Dancing and an Auction! Reconciliation Ball to Commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the e...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    06/07/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Steamin' Day at Auburn Heights

    06/07/2015
    12:30pm — 04:30pm

    Join the Marshall Steam Museum at Auburn Heights for the first Steamin' Day of the season! New fo...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    06/07/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    06/07/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Mt. Cuba Center Plein Air Workshop

    06/08/2015
    09:30am — 03:30pm

    Appreciate the intricacies of painting outdoors as you interpret the beauty of Mt. Cuba Center's ...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    06/08/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Monday's are Whiskey nights at Minihane's

    06/08/2015
    05:00pm — 11:00pm

    Whisky is not the same as Whiskey! There is some debate about whether or not Scottish distill...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    06/08/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • Mt. Cuba Center Plein Air Workshop

    06/09/2015
    09:30am — 03:30pm

    Appreciate the intricacies of painting outdoors as you interpret the beauty of Mt. Cuba Center's ...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    06/09/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Fitness Walks

    06/10/2015
    08:30am — 09:30am

    Turn off the treadmill and forget the gym! Start your day with an invigorating hour-long hike thr...


  • Mt. Cuba Center Plein Air Workshop

    06/10/2015
    09:30am — 03:30pm

    Appreciate the intricacies of painting outdoors as you interpret the beauty of Mt. Cuba Center's ...


  • Gentle Yoga

    06/10/2015
    05:00pm — 06:00pm

    Reduce the aches and pains of age by increasing your range of motion through the practice of yoga...


  • Hatha Yoga

    06/10/2015
    06:30pm — 07:30pm

    This series of vigorous exercises is designed to strengthen the body and increase flexibility whi...


  • Mt. Cuba Center Plein Air Workshop

    06/11/2015
    09:30am — 03:30pm

    Appreciate the intricacies of painting outdoors as you interpret the beauty of Mt. Cuba Center's ...


  • Sunday Brunch

    06/11/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    06/11/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • Mt. Cuba Center Plein Air Workshop

    06/12/2015
    09:30am — 03:30pm

    Appreciate the intricacies of painting outdoors as you interpret the beauty of Mt. Cuba Center's ...


  • Sunday Brunch

    06/12/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Enjoy a night out with friends at Mt. Cuba Center! Unwind as you sip wine and create garden maste...


Chester County High School Sports