Vocal Anti-Drug Advocate Krissy McAfee Is A Santa Clarita Unsung Hero
Santa Clarita Mom on a Mission Against Drug Abuse Since Son's Heroin Overdose in 2010
The Santa Clarita mother of two surviving children has turned her family’s tragedy into a personal and public anti-drug mission. It’s her way of paying tribute to her son Daniel Trae Allen, hoping some good can somehow come from his death of a heroin overdose in March 2010, at age 24.
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McAfee embarked on that mission a month later, when she made an impassioned and very public plea to the Santa Clarita City Council and the community at large: Please DO something about the spike in heroin and prescription drug abuse and overdose deaths in the Santa Clarita Valley.
McAfee’s three minutes at the podium shook up the community. That helped motivate a concerted effort to fight the problem, involving the city, the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station, the Hart school district, ACTION Family Counseling and other addiction treatment organizations.
Today, whenever possible, McAfee shares her chilling cautionary tale as a guest speaker at public and private events, like the recent ACTION Drug Overdose Awareness Day vigil and the city’s annual "Heroin Kills: The High is a Lie" symposium (she's pictured speaking at the first symposium in fall 2010). Those events are part of the community-wide effort she inspired. She has also guested on KHTS’s “Families in Action” radio program several times. And few who listen to her story are unmoved.
More behind the scenes, McAfee works each week counseling troubled parents and teens at Canyon High on Tuesday nights at 7. She hopes to educate them, and help them avoid the heartbreak of addiction and death, because no child should die from drug abuse, and no parent should outlive their child.
Upon hearing she had been chosen a KHTS Santa Clarita Unsung Hero, McAfee saw her on-air interview as another prime opportunity to spread the anti-addiction message.
Life Before and After Her Son’s Heroin Overdose
McAfee doesn’t often talk a lot about her life before Trae’s four years of addiction then death by OD, before her entire universe shifted seven years ago. It seems so far removed from her life today. But on her visit to KHTS for her Santa Clarita Unsung Hero interview Sept. 9 with air personality and station manager Kyle Jellings, we did get a glimpse into her early years.
McAfee said her family moved around a lot when she was young. They lived in Santa Clarita during her high school years; she attended Hart High, but graduated in Oklahoma. Her dream was to be a nurse. She attended nursing school for a short time, but got married soon after high school.
RELATED: Read all of KHTS's Santa Clarita Unsung Heroes features brought to you by Mercedes-Benz of Valencia.
Gia, the first of her three children was born a year later, in 1988, followed by Trae a year after that. Krissy and her husband moved to Santa Clarita in 1991, and Taylor was born in 1992.
“I was lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom…and spend a lot of time at home with my kids,” McAfee said. She laughed about the first few years raising her youngsters, born just a few years apart, saying it was “overwhelming.”
As the kids grew up, the family’s life was fairly typical, before drugs intervened. “They were just like any other kids – they did sports out here,” she said. “You start soccer and T-ball right away, and just go from there.”
Trae, a Canyon High graduate, was 20 when his drug addiction came to light, and it changed the family dynamic forever. McAfee went on to recount more of her son’s story, why she wanted to go public with his addiction, how she connected with ACTION, and what she has done since then as an anti-drug advocate.
McAfee Now a Proud Grandmother as Well as Anti-Drug Advocate
McAfee (pictured at the August 2013 ACTION Drug Overdose Awareness Day gathering) said her son Taylor, now 21, is still processing his brother’s death, but doing OK. "They were closest of friends," she said later. Her daughter Gia’s son Deegan, who lives with his mom and dad in Tulsa, will be 2 years old in late October, and McAfee’s a proud grandmother.
“On the phone I got to hear him say, ‘I love you!’ this past weekend for the first time,” she told Jellings. “That was amazing.”
As she wrapped up her KHTS Santa Clarita Unsung Hero interview, McAfee took a moment to plug California’s 911 Good Samaritan law.
“I think it’s really important (people) know about it,” she said. “If someone is overdosing, please call (911) and get emergency medical help. There are no legal ramifications if you have drugs on you for personal use or paraphernalia – you do not have to worry about that anymore.”
She also urged anyone with a drug or alcohol problem to reach out for help.
“Please don’t be afraid to come forward. We can help,” she said. “That’s the biggest plea. Also for parents – if you have a child that has a substance abuse problem, please don’t feel any shame or stigma to come forward and get help. That’s what keeps a lot of people from getting help – not just here, but across the United States.”
Hear, See the Krissy McAfee 'Unsung Hero' Podcast, Video
Photos: Top courtesy City of Santa Clarita; bottom by Stephen K. Peeples.
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