When tragedy strikes, it often takes a strong type of person, and a supportive community to turn it into something good. That’s exactly what the Vieira family is doing; with the help of friends and neighbors, they are attempting to turn their pain into something positive.
Lisa and Dave Vieira lost two of their four sons in the span of two years, both from drug overdoses. Michael passed away two years ago, and Matthew, just 8 weeks ago, two days after their parents and friends had started a fund to raise money and awareness to combat substance abuse in the community.
“[We] knew that we needed to do something because we couldn’t say anything anymore,” said Linda Rossi, a family friend who helped establish the fund. “There was nothing else we could say. So we decided to act. And so we formed this foundation, knowing that Dave and Lisa wanted to go out and speak and make a difference and talk and educate and bring awareness to this problem. We said we will get you the money that you need to start this project.”
The goal of the Friends of Michael and Matthew Fund is to increase education about substance abuse, to prevent other families from enduring the same loss as the Vieira family.
“The reality is, just because it’s not in the news every day, it’s still happening, not just here, but on a universal scale as well,” Rossi said. “And it knows no demographic, it does not discriminate.”
Another source of motivation for Lisa and Dave is their other two teenage sons. “They have two more sons who they have to keep moving for,” Rossi said.
Rossi is now the lead planner of a fundraising event taking place this weekend, on June 8 and 9.
Dave and Lisa Vieira are both members of Journey Fitness, and the gym owners have also rallied behind them to support their efforts. On Saturday, Journey Fitness is hosting a “bootcamp” at Eldridge Park at 10 a.m. to kick off the “Weekend of Recovery.” It’s $10 to participate, or $20 if you purchase a T-shirt. Members of the Elmira Police Department, the Elmira Fire Department, local boy scouts, and students from local high schools will be in attendance. The event is open to all.
On Sunday, a spaghetti dinner will be held at the Elmira Elks Club from 1-4 p.m. There will be a basket raffle, door prizes, a 50/50, and plenty of food. Dinner is $10; it’s free for children under 5 and $8 for seniors.
The proceeds from both events will benefit the Friends of Michael and Matthew Fund, which has been established through Ziff Law Firm. If you cannot attend the event, but still want to donate, you can make a check payable to “Friends of Michael and Matthew,” and send it to Ziff Law Firm at 303 William St., Elmira, N.Y. 14901.
“We need to be able to get the word out there and let people know this is not just Lisa and Dave’s children, it’s all our children,” Rossi said.