The Elizabeth Rose Olsen Foundation aims to help individuals struggling with addiction who are feeling lost, have nowhere else to turn, and no longer have control of their lives due to substance abuse. We know firsthand what the terrifying consequences of addiction can be. And, aim to help individuals living with this disease so their family members don’t have to know the pain of losing a loved one to addiction.
Donations to our fund go to helping people working to overcome the hold that addiction has on their lives. Overall, The Foundation’s mission is to help qualified recovering individuals obtain basic necessities so they can feel better about themselves and work to gain serenity and sobriety effectively.
The Elizabeth Rose Olsen Foundation helps people fighting the disease of substance use disorder. We know firsthand the devastating consequences. We have two goals in mind. Help the individual achieve sobriety and serenity. Spare the families and loved ones the pain of losing them to addiction.
Donations to our fund go directly to help people working to overcome the hold that addiction has on their lives. ADDITIONALLY, the O’Connor’s match dollar for dollar! YES, 100% of all the money donated is matched!
We are Mariann and Len O’Connor. Our beautiful daughter, our only child, Elizabeth Rose Olsen, was found lifeless on July 5, 2016, from a lethal overdose of narcotics at the age of 26.
Boston Liz, as she was known to her friends, was beautiful, talented, loving—and addicted. What had begun in high school as taking pills to “get high” morphed into a full-blown addiction satisfied by just about any drug within her reach.
Our story is the same horrific story told by many other helpless and distraught parents of drug-addicted children. As parents, we denied we were being her enablers when we smoothed her road with a financial bailout; we believed her when she lied about using, we believed ourselves when we thought a word or deed could fix things. We found excuses for her failures and blamed life’s early childhood events for the addiction. When we couldn’t bear to blame our child, we blamed ourselves. And though we know in our hearts that only Elizabeth could save Elizabeth, the unbearable weight of her death still takes our breath away, can bring us to our knees and reduce us to tears at any given moment, on any given day for no apparent reason.
Len & Mariann O’Connor
Elizabeth’s struggle taught us that fighting this disease is a lifelong process. It never ends. It is all consuming. It is frightening. It is relentless.
Relapses can and do happen, frequently. Overdoses can and do happen, frequently. Recovery can and does happen, but not for everyone. Not for Elizabeth.
Getting through the seconds, minutes, hours, and days of life with an addict is gut wrenching. Achieving sobriety is not something you can do for someone, no matter how much you love them. Sobriety can only be achieved by the one seeking to be sober. It is a personal battle. It is a journey you can take with them but not for them.
We found that staying clean and sober came a little easier for Elizabeth when she was working a solid 12 Step Program, lived in a sober house, worked, ate healthy, exercised, and gave to others. By surrounding herself with a strong support team, including her parents, she did amazing. It was also especially important to let go of the past and embrace what the future can hold.
Near the end of my daughter’s eulogy, I spoke about how Len and I never planned to bury our child. Our plan was to grow old watching her grow up. We hoped to be blessed with grandchildren. We expected that Elizabeth would beat this hideous disease, bring illumination to the dark world of addiction, and shine her light on those who needed her help. God had other plans. Therefore, with love and respect for Elizabeth’s search for truth it seems the only thing we can do is pick up her touch and spread her beauty.
A cherished daughter, granddaughter and goddaughter. Favorite niece and cousin. Incredible best friend, girlfriend, sponsee and sponsor are some of the titles she held. Elizabeth was a lot of things to a lot of people. An avid exercise buff, devoted sun worshiper and dedicated health and wellness coach who enjoyed living the Florida lifestyle. Always willing to help others.
Elizabeth Rose Olsen is the daughter of Mariann and Len O’Connor, founders of the 501(c)(3) Foundation bearing her name. Elizabeth died in July 2016 of accidental multiple drug intoxication. This concluded an eight year struggle with drug and alcohol addiction fraught with ups and downs; successes and failures; clean time and some hard running. She left an enormous void for her family and for her countless friends in the recovery community of Delray Beach, a place she loved, where she lived and worked for seven years. The place she often found serenity especially when she was helping others in her same frightening situation.
Just about everyone called her Liz—her friends called her Boston Liz because she grew up so close to the city in the town of Hingham, Massachusetts. But even after living in Florida for seven years she still talked with the endearing qualities of a Boston accent. It was “pissa” to live in Florida. When “evah” she talked she dropped the “r” at the end of her words. She liked to get “togetha” with her friends, usually at Stahbucks “afta” she “pahked” the “cah”. None of her pronunciations were “wee-id” at all! She was a “Bawston” girl and “wicked” proud of it.
And she was beautiful. So very beautiful. American beauty for young women is often defined as being fit, curvaceous and blonde with perfectly straight white teeth and an alluring smile. Liz was all that, and she worked hard at it, real hard. Liz was an avid exerciser and sun worshipper and she thrived while working as a Health and Wellness Coach for Herbalife. She was nothing you would picture when thinking of a drug addict. She hid all her pain inside behind her outwardly bubbly persona.
Always the fashionista, Liz took great pride in helping others look and feel their best. She was intelligent, caring and motivated with an infectious personality and was a reflection of a loving and supportive family. She was well known and well liked, even loved, by so many.
Liz’s lifeless body was found at home in bed with no outward signs of trauma or drug abuse on Tuesday, July 5, 2016 at 11:22 p.m.
Elizabeth was dead, and after six weeks of waiting her parents received the autopsy results confirming accidental multiple drug intoxication.
Into the freedom of wind and sunshine—we let you go, Into the dance of the stars and the planets—we let you go, Into the wind’s breath and the hands of the star maker—we let you go, We love you, we miss you, we want you to be happy, Go safely, go dancing, go running home —Ruth Burgess
According to a September 22, 2016 article from the Chicago Tribune, someone overdoses on heroin or other opioid drugs in South Florida every two hours. It noted that Delray Beach had 195 overdoses in 2015 and had at least 394 in 2016. A local television station reported on February 19, 2017 that there were over 500 deaths from opioid overdoses in Palm Beach County alone in 2016.
More than 130 people died every day from opioid-related drug overdoses in 2016 and 2017, according to the US Department of Health & Human Services.
Elizabeth and many others, several of whom were her friends, are included in that number.
Opioid-involved overdose deaths rose from 21,088 in 2010 to 47,600 in 2017 and remained steady in 2018 with 46,802 deaths. This was followed by a significant increase in 2019 to 49,860 overdose deaths.
In 2019, there were 70,630 overdose deaths in the United States and 49,860 of those overdose deaths involved opioids.
At least 87,000 drug overdose deaths were reported from October 2019 to September 2020—a 29 percent increase from the year before, according to CDC data reviewed by The New York Times. A large portion of the deaths occurred in April and May, when many treatment centers and support groups were shut down, the data reveals.
Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told the Times that many overdose deaths involve a mix of fentanyl or heroin with stimulants. “Dealers are lacing these non-opioid drugs with cheaper, yet potent, opioids to make a larger profit,” she said. “Someone who’s addicted to a stimulant drug like cocaine or methamphetamine is not tolerant to opioids, which means they are going to be at high risk of overdose if they get a stimulant drug that’s laced with an opioid like fentanyl.”