A suburban Chicago mother who lost her son and is now dedicating her time to helping others struggling with addiction and isolation amid the pandemic.
Nicole Caceres said her son Mathew LeBlanc was a brilliant artist with a bright future that was cut short after the 24-year old passed away from a drug overdose on May 19 last year in their West Dundee home. She said her creative-minded son was struggling with addiction and the pandemic made things worse.
“That social isolation was devastating to him,” Nicole said. “He was stuck in the house a lot and 12-step meetings were online.”
Nicole told NBC 5 she found comfort surrounding herself with her son’s belongings including his art by sitting in his room and that’s where she got the idea to use his artwork to help others.
Feeling out of the loop? We'll catch you up on the Chicago news you need to know. Sign up for the weekly Chicago Catch-Up newsletter here.
“By sharing that with the world, it allows us to get overdose message out,” Nicole said.
Nicole, her husband and Mathew’s siblings worked together to create the Love LeB Project that aims to spread awareness of the struggles of addiction.
“The t-shirts we have designed have his original artwork on the back along with the purple overdose awareness ribbon,” Nicole said.
Proceeds from t-shirt sales go to Shatterproof, a national and Chicago-based non-profit dedicated to reversing the addition crisis, according to the project’s website.
“Losing my son was absolutely devastating,” Nicole said. “If I can somehow change someone else’s life or make a difference in the fight against overdose and substance use disorder that’s my number one.”