A Wake-Up Call for Parents:
An Interview with Kate Patton
On Thursday, June 8, 2006 hundreds of people will come to DEA headquarters to take part in a candlelight vigil to remember those who have died from drugs. One of the parents who will share her story will be Kate Patton. Kate’s daughter Kelley died of an ecstasy overdose in 1999. Her story and the details of the vigil can be viewed by clicking here.
DEA spoke with Kate about life since the loss of her daughter and about what she is doing to help ensure other parents do not have to go through the pain she carries with her every day.
The following are excerpts from our conversation:
On the loss of her daughter…
“Kelley died in 1999 and the years since just blur together. It was like somebody knocked me over physically, emotionally and spiritually. Her dying was one blow, and then finding out that she was involved in selling drugs was another blow – a shameful one. I was in a dark place for a long time. I couldn’t talk about it. I couldn’t go out. My whole life was in slow motion.”
Kelley McEnery Baker.
About the Kelley McEnry Baker Foundation...
“It is a way for me to talk to kids who are at risk in our communities. It also allows me to educate parents to educate themselves. However, children don’t always have to wait for their parents to talk to them about drugs. I have heard stories of kids initiating the conversation…wanting to talk to their parents about the dangers of drugs. This is a good thing.”
On what inspired her to do something…
“Anger motivated me the most. I kept reading the paper and more and more kids were dying because of drugs. This had to stop and I needed to try and help. I knew nothing about drugs or the signs of abuse. There was so much to learn, so I started educating myself.”
“I don’t sleep very well. I wake up every night at 4:30 a.m. I never knew when Kelley actually died, but the police say it was probably at that time. One morning, at 4:30 a.m., I woke up and turned on C-SPAN. I saw Senator Biden and Senator Grassley talking about ecstasy, so I got out a pad and started writing down the name of everyone at the Hearing. And then, I started calling all of them – telling them that I was a mom who lost her daughter to ecstasy and I didn’t want this to happen to anyone else.”
Advice to Parents...
“Don’t be like me. I missed the boat with Kelley. Communication starts at home. If you don’t talk to them, you could lose them. Parents need to get educated about drugs. They can not solely rely on the schools to provide all the necessary information.”
About Kelley’s Law…
“Before Kelley’s Law, possessing 199 pills of ecstasy was a misdemeanor in the state of Illinois. Now, having 15 pills can get you anywhere from 6 to 30 years in prison. The irony of Kelley’s Law is that (my late daughter) Kelley would have been in violation of it, and if she would have been caught she would be in prison right now. I would much rather have her in jail. Laws are a blessing. They give kids a chance to start their lives over.”
On working with the DEA…
“The DEA has been like another whole family to me. When I called DEA back in 2001 and told them about Kelley, they told me that I needed to tell America my story because people would listen to me. I credit DEA for pushing me out of isolation and putting me in a position where I can make a difference. The work I do with educating kids about drugs keeps me going. I owe DEA an awful lot.”
“I am a member of Congressmen Mark S. Kirk's Drug Task Force, Mark is very active here in Illinois in fighting drug issues and I am proud to be a part of his team. A real source of pride for me is the DEA Target America Exhibit that will be here in Chicago at the Museum of Science and Industry starting August 10, 2006. I am on the host committee and Kelley’s story is a part of the Lost Talent portion of the museum.”