It’s something no parent should have to endure - the sudden loss of a child.
An Atascadero mother is using her grief for good - pushing for fentanyl awareness after losing her son in March 2020.
Cammie Velci’s life dramatically changed when she lost her 19-year old son, Emilio.
Emilio passed away after taking a powerful painkiller.
“Emilio was having wisdom teeth pain and we had been talking about it...saying it hurts and we have to get his teeth out,” said Velci.
They made plans to make a dental appointment for the following Monday. But the night before - Emilio's tooth pain got worse. “On Sunday, he purchased what he thought was a Percocet and was told was a Percocet and it was pure fentanyl,” Velci said.
The sudden loss of her son was combined with confusion, as Velci had never heard of fentanyl prior to Emilio's death.
However, she quickly learned how deadly it can be.
“Two grains of salt - that’s enough to kill you, and my son had a lot more than that in his system.”
Velci has now joined friends in the community to spread awareness of this dangerous drug, that is often sold to young kids online.
She references another tragic incident when her friend's 14-year-old child purchased fentanyl on the social media app, Snapchat, and passed away.
Since Emilio's death, Cammie and others launched 'The Emilio Velci Share Aloha Project', a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the community through advocacy, awareness, and education.
The organization's first annual fentanyl awareness event is on Saturday, May 1 at the Atascadero Agricultural Hall. It's called ‘Evening of Aloha’ - a tribute to where Emilio was raised and his aloha spirit.
Proceeds will go to fentanyl education, as well as scholarships and supporting youth athletics, which Emilio loved.
Velci said that creating awareness is helping her channel her grief into something positive. “I just know that he would want me to save another child’s life another family from going through this horrific tragedy.”
For more information on the event, the organization or to donate, visit www.emiliovelcialohaproject.com.