SIMSBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — “Jordan was your typical kid growing up here in Simsbury,” said Lisa Gray of her son, Jordan Arakelian.

Arakelian was a Little League baseball and high school football player. But, in his sophomore year, everything changed.

“He started using marijuana and it quickly progressed to prescription medications, to eventually heroin,” Gray explained.

Sadly, after nine years of fighting addiction, Arakelian died from taking heroin and fentanyl.

It was his 14th overdose.

“I made a promise to him that day, as I said goodbye to him in the driveway, that I would continue fighting to save other individuals from the devastation brought on by the disease of addiction,” she said.

True to her word, Gray founded A Promise to Jordan, which aims to eliminate the stigma around substance abuse disorders, helping people access treatment and also providing training on Narcan.

Narcan can treat a narcotic overdose in an emergency situation.

An upcoming “awesome alcohol-free” dinner will help Gray raise funds and awareness.

“It’s our way of saying, ‘You can come together and have a really awesome, great time without using substances,'” she said, noting that Arakelian’s addiction was fueled by the trauma he suffered as a young child.

When he was sober, he often said he wanted to help others.

“I want people to know, he was a wonderful son, a wonderful human being,” said Gray.

This mother fights with grace to honor her son’s memory and to make a difference.

“I wanted people to look at Jordan and look at me and realize, my gosh, if that can happen to them, it can happen to me, because it absolutely can,” she said.

The dinner is coming up on November 18, which would have been Jordan’s 29th birthday.

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