UNION COUNTY, N.C. — A pastor is trying to bring change after his grandson died of an overdose.


What You Need To Know

August 31, 2022 is Overdose Awareness Day

Bridge to Recovery addiction treatment center lined its lawn with purple flags to symbolize the victims who have died from overdose in North Carolina

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, in the last 20 years 28,000 have lost their lives in the state to drug overdose


First Baptist Church of Indian Trail Pastor Mike Whitson has a lot of fond members of his grandson Cameron. He said he loved sports as a child and tried extreme activities, such as cliff jumping, when he became an adult. 

“He was just like most other kids, except he lived life with no fear,” Whitson said. “He would just try anything and do anything.”

He says his grandson had ADHD and was always a hyperactive person. In his teenage years someone introduced him to illegal drugs.

“One drug led to another, and he was just that kind of personality where I want to experience this and know how that is,” Whitson said.

Cameron struggled with drug addiction for several years until May 2020 when the addiction took his life.

The Bridge to Recovery addiction center held an overdose awareness event Wednesday. Purple flags lined the lawn to represent those who have died from drug overdose in the state. Whitson wrote his grandson’s name on a flag and put it in the ground.

“It’s not natural for children to proceed their parents, and it’s not natural for our grandkids too,” Whitson said. “It was a hurt that I don’t want anyone else to experience, and we want to stop that.”

Whitson wanted to do more, so he started a nonprofit in Union County. The organization is called Cameron's House of Hope. The goal is to provide counseling, tutoring and more to children impacted by substance-abusive parents. 

“Through some inspiration at the church, it really became apparent that we wanted to stop addiction before it ever really started,” Whitson said.

He misses his grandson every day and hopes to help others prevent such a tragedy. 

“We want to show them that it’s not your fault and that you are valued,” Whitson said. “God has a great purpose and plan for your life.”

If you know someone struggling with addiction, contact the Alcohol and Drug Council of North Carolina helpline. That number is 1-800-688-4232. The number is toll-free and available 24 hours a day.