Jody Daitchman remembers her son, Alex Laliberte, as a “wonderful student” who had “a zillion friends.”
Still, she knew he had flaws. While attending Stevenson High School, Alex began using marijuana and harder drugs. By his junior year, he was receiving drug counseling and attending a support group. He graduated from high school in 2007, and his family thought he was turning his life around.
Then in 2008, while on a break from college, he died from a heroin overdose in his Buffalo Grove home. He was 20 years old.
Alex’s death was shocking and heartbreaking to his family, who documents his story on Live4Lali.org.
His family hopes others won’t have to experience the same struggles that they and Alex faced. In 2009, they established Live4Lali, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about youth substance abuse while raising funds for suburban youth organizations.
"He played football his entire life. The minute he stopped playing, he started hanging out with these kids who were not good news," Chelsea Laliberte, Alex's sister, said.
Live4Lali’s fourth annual Lali-Palooza fundraiser is scheduled for 1 to 5 p.m. July 14 at Par-King in Lincolnshire. The family-friendly event — $15 for adults, $10 for those 12 and younger — will include a round of mini-golf, lunch, a silent auction and live music.
Proceeds will benefit scholarship programs for a number of youth activity organizations, including Buffalo Grove Bills Football, Lake Zurich Flames and Barrington Youth and Family Services.
"A lot of kids don't have the opportunities to get involved in these programs because their parents can't afford it," said Chelsea Laliberte, who now lives in Barrington. Yet anyone can succumb to drugs, she added.
"It doesn't matter where you come from, what color you are, what you believe in," she said. "It really can happen to anyone."
Daitchman said she hopes the money raised at Lali-Palooza will help give kids a positive direction.
“It’s all about choices, and the choice (Alex) made has affected all of us,” said his mom, who since has relocated to California but will return for the golf event.
For Daitchman, too, it’s all about choices. Despite her grief, she said she has chosen to move forward and do what she can to prevent other families from experiencing destruction from drug abuse.
“You have two choices. You can either go on in a positive way, or you can do nothing,” Daitchman said. “We need to try to be as positive as possible and help other people if we can.”