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Brad Z.

By Brad's mom, Susan

Bradley Michael Zulick

Butler, Pennsylvania

On August 21, 1986, in Butler, Pennsylvania, I was blessed by the birth of my beautiful son, Bradley Michael Zulick. It was one of the happiest days of my life.

Brad was a content and happy baby. As a child, he always made me laugh and brought joy and laughter to everyone lucky enough to know him.

His friends and family describe him as funny, thoughtful, and a polite young man. He was loving, kind-hearted and was a spirit lifter, with a contagious personality and smile. Brad was also a fantastic athlete, a great friend, and everyone’s best friend. He was truly one of a kind.

Brad loved everyone, and everyone loved him. Brad’s friends and family had many nicknames for him, including: Bread, B-Rad, B-Rizzle, and B-Rabbit. His family meant the world to him, especially his Godson, Van, who he adored. Brad also enjoyed spending time with his friends' children. I believe he would have been an excellent father one day.

Brad was very close with his sister, Kelly. Kelly and Brad were 15 months apart in age and shared many mutual friends - you rarely saw one without the other. Kelly described Brad as her best friend, even through the tough times of his addiction. She tried so hard to save her brother from this horrible disease.

Throughout Brad’s short life, one of his biggest interests was sports -- whether he was participating or simply watching, he was always engaged. In high school, he excelled at football, basketball, and track, and also enjoyed playing golf. Even when he was older he still participated in small-sided football games, church basketball leagues, dek hockey, and baseball games. No one knew more about sports than Brad, which helped him to become an outstanding sports trivia player.

Every year Brad played in the Lyndora Turkey Bowl, a neighborhood football game held on Thanksgiving Day, where the younger guys played against the older generation. Brad enjoyed these games so much. He also was a passionate supporter of Pitt Panther football and regularly attended games with his dad, sister, cousins, and friends. Pitt games are precious memories of times spent with Brad.

Brad loved music; going to concerts with his close friends was what he looked forward to more than anything.

In school, history was Brad's favorite subject. He studied history at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and went on to receive his associate's degree from Butler County Community College on May 19, 2009. We were all so proud of him for this accomplishment.

It seemed Brad's life would be everything he dreamed it could be. We all were so hopeful that he would have a bright future.

However, around the time Brad graduated from college, he became addicted to prescription pills. I knew there was a problem, but because I was naive, I didn't know exactly what was wrong. Brad was becoming moody and depressed -- the total opposite of the laid-back young man he always was in the past.

In January of 2014, Brad admitted his addiction to prescription pills and asked me for help. I believe he was using heroin at that time, but he didn't admit it. My heart broke as I watched him sobbing because of the shame and guilt he felt from his addiction. He told me he was lost.

We tried so hard to help him. Brad went to rehab three times. He always believed he could overcome his struggles with addiction but I never truly understood how hard it really was for him.

Brad lost two of his best friends to drug overdoses in 2011 and 2015 and never got over losing them. He had a very compassionate heart that was easily affected by tragedy.

Brad prayed for others who battled with addiction and knew their struggles. I prayed for Brad constantly, and so did the rest of his family and friends.

The saddest day of my life was March 17, 2016 -- the day Brad lost his battle with addiction. He passed away from an overdose of heroin laced with Fentanyl. Brad's dad and I lost our baby, our only son that day. My daughter, Kelly, lost her only sibling and best friend. We all are struggling with the grief of such a huge loss.

In Brad's memory, which will be on his 30th birthday, August 21, 2016, our family is hosting a golf outing to raise awareness and funds to fight this epidemic and hopefully stop young people from experiencing the pains of addiction.

People say, “If my child's death can save one life, then his death was not in vain.” I agree with that, but I also say every single life is worth saving, and my goal is to touch as many lives as I can in memory of my son.

I pray every day for those who are struggling with addiction and for their families. I know the pain these families feel. Please join me in prayer for this drug epidemic in our country. The loss of 185 lives a day to a drug overdose in our country is 185 too many.


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