Helping others face the realities of drug addiction

When Connie Gyorr started setting up a drug abuse education effort to help others avoid issues that led to the death of her daughter last year, she wanted to make sure information reached all ages throughout all of Piatt County.

Thanks to a GoFundMe effort that raised the $10,000 she needed to bring in national speaker Tim Ryan of “A Man in Recovery – From Dope to Hope,” those goals are being met with parent and community programs scheduled for March 29 and 30.

“Drug addiction is a disease that does not discriminate. It’s become an epidemic in our community, and in order for it to stop, parents and students need to become educated on the effects of drug abuse, how to prevent it from going too far and how they can seek help,” said Gyorr, whose daughter Marisa McDuff died of a drug overdose at the age of 20 on May 11, 2016 in Yorkville.

“It’s extremely important for me to reach out to as many people and communities as I possibly can. I’ve started with Piatt County and with the help of the community, I’m hopeful that this message will spread to the rest of the state and nation,” said Gyorr, who resides in Monticello.

The event will feature presentations in Arthur, Bement, Cerro Gordo and Monticello.

On the GoFundMe account, entitled “Marisa’s Purpose: Faith Hope & Love,” Gyorr candidly shares not only how her daughter died, but the guilt she feels over being embarrassed and in denial of her daughter’s addiction.

That’s why the upcoming program will include sessions for parents and others of the community at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 29 at Bement High School and the following night in the Monticello High School auditorium.

“I’ve spent countless hours/days researching ways to not only get through to parents, grandparents and students but also reach out to those who could be struggling with addiction,” she added. “There’s so much information and so many resources, but thousands of parents, grandparents, sisters and brothers still remain uneducated and unaware of the drug epidemic occurring right in our community.”

Besides his Naperville-based organization, Ryan is also a “sober coach” who speaks to school groups, corporations and others.

Gyorr said $5,000 was needed to pay for Ryan to travel to Piatt County. The remainder of the $10,460 raised will remain in the Marisa’s Purpose charity for other endeavors.

The dollars were raised in just over a month.

“I can’t thank our community enough for supporting this cause. Marisa was always very determined and I feel like her spirit is helping us make leaps and bounds. I am extremely blessed,” she said.

The schedule
Ryan will be in Bement, Cerro Gordo and Monticello during the two-day event. The schedule includes the following appearances:
Wednesday, March 29: 8:15 a.m. – Monticello High School freshmen and sophomores; 9:15 a.m. – MHS juniors and seniors; 10:15 a.m. – Monticello Middle School; 1 to 2 p.m. – A public event for police, public works and first responders (and anyone else interested) at the Livingston Center in Monticello; 7 p.m. – A public presentation in the Bement High School gymnasium
Thursday, March 30: 8:15 a.m. – Cerro Gordo Junior/Senior High School; 10 a.m. – Arthur-Lovington/Atwood-Hammond High School; 1:15 p.m. – Bement Middle School; 2:15 p.m. – Bement High School; 7 p.m. – Public presentation in the Monticello High School auditorium 

Categories (3):News, Education, People


The Piatt County Journal-Republican embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. we reserve the right to remove any comment at its discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

Event Calendar

Today's Events  |  FAQ
Log in to add an event