Fun. Caring. Full of life. Happy. Family oriented.
Those are all great characteristics to remember about a loved one who has passed away. However, it is hard to think that the loved one was only 21 years old when he died on Dec. 3, 2011.
What's even harder to come to grips with is that this individual took his own life.
Born the day after America's annual celebration on July 5, 1990, Jeremy Alexander Buzick was the type of son most parents dream about. The son of Kim and Bob Garcia of Litchfield and Larry Buzick of Staunton, Jeremy graduated from Litchfield High School before going to work as a carpenter.
According to Kim, Jeremy was not an ideal student. His grades weren't all that great and he didn't get involved with sports or other extracurricular activities.
Jeremy may have blended in much of the time, but it was his overwhelming desire to help and show others how much he cared that made him memorable.
Kim said if Jeremy knew of someone having a rough day, he would do all he could to cheer that person up. She said he once voluntarily helped change the tire of an older person's car when it was over 100 degrees out so they could stay indoors where it was cool.
Former high school teachers told Kim at his funeral that Jeremy was "an ideal person."
That sentiment is what makes the actions he took that Saturday evening all the more confusing. How could someone with so much love for life, friends, family, and even strangers, decide to end it and leave all those behind?
According to Kim, during the last months Jeremy was with us, he got hooked on the synthetic marijuana that can be purchased at some area gas stations and liquor stores.
Marketed as an herbal incense, synthetic marijuana packages often contain the label of being "100% organic herbs," when in reality, they all contain chemicals produced in labs to help scientists study the cannabinoid system in the brain.
After approximately 10 years on the market in the United States, there are still no published studies of the effects of these chemicals on users.
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) considers it to be a "drug of concern," citing "a surge in emergency room visits and calls to poison control centers. Adverse health effects associated with its use include seizures, hallucinations, paranoid behavior, agitation, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, racing heartbeat and elevated blood pressure."
According to several articles found online related to synthetic marijuana, the effects created can be more negative and more severe than natural marijuana. As a result, like the real plant found in nature, many states have banned the sale of these synthetic substitutes.
To help spread the word about Jeremy's untimely passing, and to help keep his legacy alive, Kim is working with Litchfield Police Chief BJ Wilkinson to spread information about the hazards of synthetic drugs.
On Thursday and Friday, March 8-9, Garcia, Chief Wilkinson, Montgomery County Undersheriff Rick Robbins and Litchfield High School Vice Principal DeAnn Heck will be giving presentations at the high school to both students and parents on the signs to watch for if someone believes a friend or family member may be using these synthetic drugs.
Chief Wilkinson encourages all parents to attend the March 8 program which will start at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria. There will be no students at this event described as a no-holds-barred discussion about the problems of synthetic drugs, including graphic detail and conversation.
"We don't need to candy-coat this problem while trying to solve it," Chief Wilkinson said. "We need to have a real culture change when it comes to our youth and substance abuse. There is a disconnect between using and abusing and the long-term affects. No one is bulletproof when it comes to introducing unknown substances into the body. We have to change how we think about things we believe won't hurt us, because they will."
The Friday sessions will only involve students with audio-visual presentations planned along with a question and answer period.
Undersheriff Robbins said the sheriff's office believes that the local communities need education in reference to synthetic drugs and pharmaceutical drugs. The office is able to provide such education and anyone who is interested may contact Robbins by calling (217) 532-9511, visiting montgomerco.com, or through their page on Facebook.
Kim, her daughter Tyffani Buzick, and family friends Stephanie Hammond and Tonya Johnson, are all raising funds to participate in the Out of the Darkness walk to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) in San Francisco this June. The overnight walk begins with an opening ceremony at 7 p.m. and walkers will trek 18 miles throughout the night before closing ceremonies at 5 a.m.
Each participant is asked to raise $1,000 for the AFPS before the walk, so the group is hosting a few fundraisers in the coming months to help meet this goal.
The first will be Friday, April 13, at Shaw's Bar in Litchfield with music by the band "Side Effect." The night will feature raffles, 50/50 drawing and a lottery ticket tree.
Shaw's will also be the site for the group's Saturday, May 5, trivia night event. Teams of 8-10 are welcome at a total cost of $100, and the night will also feature a silent auction, 50/50 and lottery ticket tree.
The team is holding an Easter basket raffle at Garcia's Making Waves Hair Salon at 511 N. Douglas, behind the old Medicine Shoppe location. Tickets are now on sale at three for $5. Car decals and T-shirts commemorating Jeremy's life are also available through Making Waves. Donations may also be dropped off at the studio.
A couple of other fundraising events are still in the works including a "Light Up The Night" event on March 24 around Litchfield Public Library, and a quarter auction on April 15 at the Litchfield Community Center.
Members of the public may purchase a personlized luminary in memory of a loved one for the "Light Up The Night" event for $5. A prayer and reading of the names is planned for 7 p.m. that evening by the Rev. Jay Johnson. Anyone who would like to purchase a luminary or has a question about the event, may stop by Making Waves or call Kim at (217) 556-8146.
For more information about the AFSP and the Out of the Darkness walk, or to make an online donation to the team for their walk, visit www.afsp.org. If you or anyone you know is in crisis and needs someone to talk to, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.