Welcome to Hero of the Week, where each week we celebrate the most extraordinary stories of heroism from all over the world. From putting another life before their own to making someone else’s dreams come true, these are ordinary people who are making the world a better place.
In 2017, an estimated 72,000 people died due to a drug-induced overdose as a result of addiction. Addiction is a real issue plaguing millions all around the world but many of these people don’t have access to the support and resources necessary to overcome their addiction.
In many cases, this leads to an accidental overdose and a life lost far too soon. Retiree Luis Garcia is no stranger to this as he spent over twenty-eight years as both a firefighter and answering 911 calls as a paramedic in South Florida.
But it was his experience as a paramedic that compelled him to want to give back to his community in any way that he could. When he discovered Narcan, he knew he had found it.
94 Lives saved and counting
In 2017, Garcia had plans to finally use the $40,000 he had been saving to purchase a new luxury SUV.
That’s when he heard about a life-saving new medication called Narcan, a nasal spray designed to treat drug overdoses, that had just been FDA approved.
For decades, Garcia answered countless calls related drug overdoses. It’s because of this experience that he knew the problem of addiction and drug overdose first-hand. And it’s because of this that he decided he wanted to deliver the medication to as many people in his community as possible.
“I have never tried drugs, been arrested or been intoxicated,” said Garcia. “I don’t make any money from the addiction field. Nobody I know has been impacted by addiction, but this is a disease that could affect anyone.”
Narcan literally brings people back from the dead minutes after they stop breathing, with no side effects. I knew that this was the way I wanted to help my community.
The only problem is the medication is expensive, so the funds had to come from somewhere.
So, instead of using the $40,000 he had saved to purchase his new SUV, Garcia remarkably decided to use the funds to purchase eight-hundred doses of Narcan so he could give them away for free.
To date, his cause has given out over 1,000 free doses of the medication and saved 94 lives.
Looking to the future
Since launching his efforts, Garcia has raised $30,000 in additional funds through a GoFundMe campaign to invest in more doses and host public awareness events in his community of South Florida.
It’s Garcia’s hope that he can start a nonprofit in the future, which will allow you to purchase the medication at a reduced bulk price of $75 for two as opposed to $50 per medication.
“Too often, unless people are affected by the disease of addiction, they just don’t seem to care,” said Garcia. “And that stigma becomes their excuse not to save people’s lives. But this is a problem that affects all of society. And we have to fix it.”