Long Time Recovery Advocate and Author, Christopher Kennedy Lawford Passes at 63. A Huge Loss to Our Recovery Community. My Tribute and Memories.

Long Time Recovery Advocate and Author, Christopher Kennedy Lawford Passes at 63. A Huge Loss to Our Recovery Community. My Tribute and Memories.

I was utterly heartbroken and shocked when I heard the news early Wednesday morning of the passing of Christopher Kennedy Lawford. We lost a huge addiction and recovery champion and tireless advocate of alcoholism as well as other addictions.

It hit me pretty hard as I was honored and privileged to have interviewed him by phone and have him as my featured article in the May/June 2017 issue of InRecovery Magazine where I was a former writer and columnist of  “The Author’s Cafe Column.”
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You can still visit the cafe’ column online and read the full article and my past interviews.  I also was an Addictionland Gambling Recovery expert blogger the same month as Christopher was in October 2014 blogging about alcoholism on Addictionland. When I interviewed him for my article for In Recovery, he was kind, not shy to be open about his past, and very gracious. He truly knew about real living while maintaining long-term recovery. Just some of what I learned about him.

Although, when I looked online to see how he passed, I could not believe how the “media” was reporting his death. He was being attached to the “Kennedy” name all over the news. I know he would not have wanted that at all as he was not close with many of the Kennedy family members as he told me in our interview. It was due to many of them still being heavy drinkers and recreational drug users except for John Jr. before his passing, and a couple cousins he spent time with.

And Christopher spoke about that in many interviews and articles in the media he said after we spoke. We all know even with family, we need to set boundaries around unhealthy relationships when we maintain recovery. And that was what Chris had done and was not shy about sharing this fact.

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And as news and media history goes, we know the many stories about The Kennedy families of drug and alcohol use and even cheating on their wives and husbands. Addiction does not discriminate on who it “touches.”

And when you are a famous or high profile figure, it can be more difficult for it playing out publically in today’s world of sound bites, media, and technology advances. He shares some of this in his many books he has written, but much in his book ‘Moments of Clarity.’ Sadly his passing has come on the heels of his new book release just some months back titled; ‘When Your Partner Has An Addiction.”

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Here is more about Christopher of what The Associated Press reports are reporting of his passing late Tuesday evening.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — “Author and actor Christopher Kennedy Lawford, who was born into political and Hollywood royalty, sank into substance abuse and addiction and rose to become a well-known advocate for sobriety and recovery, has died.

Lawford died of a heart attack Tuesday in Vancouver, Canada, his cousin, former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, told The Associated Press. He was 63.

Lawford was in Vancouver living with his girlfriend and working to open a recovery center. He had been doing hot yoga, which he did often, but the strain of it “must have been too much for him at that point,” Kennedy said.”

Lawford was the only son and oldest child of Patricia Kennedy — sister of John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy — and Peter Lawford — the English actor and socialite who was a member of Frank Sinatra’s “Rat Pack.” (Below Patricia Kennedy Lawford, Actor-husband Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, and Actor Tony Curtis.)

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“I was given wealth, power and fame when I drew my first breath,” Lawford wrote in his 2005 book, “Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption,” the first of several books he wrote about his substance struggles.

He wrote that his parents got telegrams predicting big things for him from Bing Crosby and Dean Martin and said he once got a lesson in doing “The Twist” from Marilyn Monroe. The cover of his books shows him sitting poolside as a child with his uncle and soon-to-be-president John F. Kennedy looming behind him.

He spent his youth frolicking with Hollywood stars on one coast and rubbing shoulders with political stars on the other, living between libertine Los Angeles and the hyper-competitive Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, where he was a big-brother figure to John F. Kennedy Jr.

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Christopher Kennedy and his cousin John F Kennedy Jr, in Hyannisport MA

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“You can’t get much more fawned over than being a Kennedy male,” Lawford wrote. (Above Chris and John Jr.)

His life with drugs began with LSD while at boarding school at age 14. In the years before he had experienced the assassinations of his two uncles and his parents’ divorce in 1966.

With heroin and other opioids as his substances of choice, Lawford leaped into deeper substance abuse in drug-heavy 1970s Hollywood, where his father also abused drugs and alcohol as his career faded. Peter Lawford died in 1984. Patricia Kennedy died in 2006.

In his memoir, Christopher Lawford told tales of mugging women for money, panhandling in Grand Central Station and getting arrested twice for drug possession before getting sober at 30.

“There are many days when I wish I could take back and use my youth more appropriately,” Lawford told The Associated Press in 2005. “But all of that got me here. I can’t ask for some of my life to be changed and still extract the understanding and the life that I have today.”

Patrick Kennedy, the former congressman from Rhode Island whose father is Edward M. Kennedy, said his cousin “did something very difficult,” airing family secrets and temporarily hurting his relationships within the Kennedy clan when he wrote his book.

“He had the courage to know that he had to find himself, and he wasn’t going to be able to do it while holding on to the old family narrative,” Kennedy said.

Lawford was “tormented by the fact” that for a time he was estranged from his sisters, Patrick Kennedy said.  “Over the years of recovery, he ended up reconciling with his sisters, happiest I ever saw him,” Kennedy said.

His life’s work became helping others recover — including his cousin.
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“He was the absolute cornerstone to my sobriety, along with my wife,” Patrick Kennedy said (the former politician had been addicted to drugs and alcohol). “He was the one who walked me through all the difficult days of that early period.”

After his memoir, Lawford authored several more books on addiction and recovery, most recently 2015′s “What Addicts Know.”

He worked steadily as an actor, with moderate success. He had a small part in 2003′s “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” made appearances on TV shows including “Frazier” and “The O.C.” and had recurring roles on the soaps “All My Children” and “General Hospital,” playing a senator in the latter.

He told the AP in 2005 that his famous dual identities both helped and hurt him in Hollywood.

“The names give you an entree, absolutely, but it’s a kind of a double-edged sword,” he said. “People do pay attention to you, but nobody gets ahead in Hollywood unless they are really lucky or they deserve it.”

He is survived by his sisters, Sydney, Victoria and Robin, and his children, David, Savannah, and Matt.

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In closing, here is a little more about his writing and activism per Wikipedia: 

In September 2005, Harper-Collins published Lawford’s memoir Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption (William Morrow 2005, ISBN 0-06-073248-2), which immediately became a New York Times Bestseller. In 2009, he released Moments of Clarity: Voices from the Front Lines of Addiction and Recovery, a series of essays by public figures, athletes and entertainers who have struggled with addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Almost every interviewee sought help from a twelve-step program such as Alcoholics AnonymousNarcotics Anonymous or another spiritually based means of support for recovery. In his own life, Lawford battled a drug and alcohol addiction for much of his early life. Lawford worked extensively in politics, government and the non-profit sector holding executive staff positions with The Democratic National Committee, The Community Action for Legal Services Agency and in the Washington office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

He has held staff positions on numerous national, state and local political campaigns, as well as with The Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. FoundationSpecial Olympics and The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. He was later a Public Advocacy Consultant for Caron Treatment Centers and was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to serve on the California Department of Public Health Advisory Board.

Yes, we have lost an addiction and recovery warrior, champion, and an outspoken advocate within September 2018 National Recovery Month. Even though I know he is in a much better place and is “Now Home.” It still hurts those who are left behind and especially when it happens suddenly. My thoughts, love, and prayers to his wife and children for this sudden loss, and to all his extended family and friends.

The Recovery world has a little less “Sparkle” without Christopher in it.

~Advocate and Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon~

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Special Tribute To A Favorite “Actor”Gone To Soon…”Paul Walker”

“Here is what I came across on my Facebook page last night as I had been a FB friend & Like of  “Actor, Paul Walker”…….

Author Catherine Townsend-Lyon “Addicted To Dimes”

It is with a truly heavy heart that we must confirm that Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident while attending a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide. He was a passenger in a friend’s car, in which both lost their lives. We appreciate your patience as we too are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news. Thank you for keeping his family and friends in your prayers during this very difficult time. We will do our best to keep you apprised on where to send condolences. – #TeamPW
……

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*NEEDLESS TO SAY I WAS HEART BROKEN*……..

Here are a few stories that are around the web this morning as many of his friends, family, and many who are as “Shocked & Sad” as I am Today. Paul was only 40 years old……..”Another Gone To Soon”……

Image: Vin Diesel (left) & Paul Walker (© @therealvindiesel via Instagram)

Publicist: Paul Walker dies in car crash

*Courtesy of The Los Angeles Times*
By Carla RiveraNovember 30, 2013, 9:11 p.m.

Actor Paul Walker, who gained fame as an undercover detective in the hugely successful “The Fast and the Furious” franchise, was killed Saturday in a car accident in Valencia, his representatives confirmed.

The single vehicle crash occurred about 3:30 p.m. in the 28300 block of Rye Canyon Loop. Deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s station and the Los Angeles County Fire Department arrived to find a vehicle engulfed in flames. Two people in the vehicle were pronounced dead at the scene.

Photos: Paul Walker, 1973-2013The cause of the accident is under investigation, said sheriff’s Deputy Kim Manatt.

According to a statement on his Twitter account, Walker, 40, was attending a charity event to aid Filipino victims of Typhoon Haiyan for his organization Reach Out Worldwide, formed in 2010 as a quick response first-aid organization.

“It is with a truly heavy heart that we must confirm that Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident while attending a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide,” the statement read. “He was a passenger in a friend’s car, in which both lost their lives. We appreciate your patience as we too are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news.”

Officials with the Los Angeles County coroner’s office said they were still at the scene and could not confirm the names of either victim.

Representatives with Universal Pictures confirmed Walker’s identity and released a statement:

“All of us at Universal are heartbroken. Paul was truly one of the most beloved and respected members of our studio family for 14 years, and this loss is devastating to us, to everyone involved with the ‘Fast and Furious’ films, and to countless fans. We send our deepest and most sincere condolences to Paul’s family.”

At the time of his death, Walker, who also starred in “Pleasantville” and “Varsity Blues,” was working on the seventh film of the “Fast and Furious” franchise.
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*Another Story from the area the accident happened, Santa Clarita*

UPDATE: Actor Paul Walker killed in Valencia car crash

*The wreckage of a Porsche sports car that crashed into a light standard on Hercules Street in the Rye Canyon Industrial Park in Valencia on Saturday. Signal photo by Dan Watson*….

Two people were killed Saturday afternoon when a Porsche sports car crashed and burst into flames in Valencia, and the passenger was actor Paul Walker, his publicist confirmed to the Associated Press

“Sadly I have to confirm that Paul Walker did pass away this afternoon,” said Ame Van Iden, Walker’s publicist.

The single-car crash occurred around 3:30 p.m. on Hercules Street near Constellation Road in the Rye Canyon Business Park, fire officials said.

The red Porsche was reduced to unrecognizable twisted metal in the single-car crash.

Sheriff’s Department officials did not confirm that the actor was killed in the crash, saying the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office would determine the victims’ identities and causes of death. The coroner’s office could not be reached for comment late Saturday.

Spectators gathered at the scene, and several said the passenger was the star of “The Fast and the Furious” series of films. One witness at the scene said he tried to put the fire out and recognized Walker inside the vehicle.

“Him and his buddy, his brother in arms at heart just decided to joyride, take a spin. Something we all do. We’re all car enthusiasts. … We’re all here driving, enjoying each other, and God must’ve needed help,” said Antonio Holmes, who said he was a friend of Walker.

“We all heard from our location (the accident). It’s a little difficult to know what it was. Someone called it in and said it was a vehicle fire.

“We all ran around and jumped in cars and grabbed fire extinguishers and immediately went to the vehicle. It was engulfed in flames. There was nothing. They were trapped. Employees, friends of the shop. We tried. We tried. We went through fire extinguishers.”

Walker, 40, is said to have business ties to Always Evolving Performance Motors, located down Constellation Road from the scene of the crash. Always Evolving hosted a toy drive and car meet on Saturday.

Holmes said Walker was at the event supporting the cause, and the driver of the vehicle also had ties to the business.

Another witness said he saw Walker and the driver leave Always Evolving Performance Motors minutes before the crash.

“When we saw Paul and Roger leave, Paul was the passenger in the vehicle. They both were experienced drivers.

This was just a tragic accident that happened on a joyride,” said Jim Torp of Santa Clarita.

“At the conclusion of the accident the vehicle struck a light standard and the whole car was burned,” a Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesman said. The two occupants of the vehicle were unable to get out in time, he said.

A sheriff’s deputy at the scene said the Porsche driver appeared to have lost control of the car, which hit a tree.

Both a tree and a light standard were downed at the scene.

Spectators gathered at the crash site as the afternoon darkened into evening, held back from going too close by yellow caution tape.”

*I truly feel in my *HEART* the only way to but this “Tragedy” into perspective,  is like one of the spectators said, “God must have needed Paul’s help today”…….I think I’ll chose to think of it this way. My thoughts, prayers, and love go out to his *Family, Friends, and Paul’s *Universal Pictures* friends & family. A very sad and tragic end to Paul’s Life. Just Remember This, “He was doing something GOOD for others at the time of his passing”*…….That’s what’s *IMPORTANT*……

            
*R.I.P…..PAUL*…..

*UPDATED* 7:32pm
*Thoughts, Love, and Prayers to *ROGER RODAS’S* Family and Friends, the driver of the car who passed along side Paul Walker. Here is more about Roger Rodas*…….

Paul Walker race team
About Roger Rodas…..

He owned a car customisation business

Rodas was the co-owner of a car customisation business in Santa Clarita, California.

Fast & Furious star Walker was named also named as a co-owner of the Always Evolving shop which describes itself as “The source for all of your automotive passions.”

He raced with Walker

Roads and Walker had raced each other in the Pirelli World Challenge Series. According to Auto Week, they raced at a number of other racing events including 25 Hours of Thunderhill.

It’s claimed Walker’s busy schedule meant he was unable to be involved as much as he would have liked.

He did a lot of charity work

They are big charity workers and were on their way to an event for Walker’s founded fundraiser Reach Out Worldwide.

The charity was part of an aid response team to help those connected to the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Rodas also did charity work for The Asomugha Foundation.

*ABOUT REACH OUT WORLD WIDE ORGANIZATION*
Paul Walker & Roger Rodas…..

Reach Out WorldWide (ROWW) – consisting of skilled volunteers – is a non-profit registered 501(c)3 organization. While part of a relief team responding to the massive earthquakes that devastated Haiti on January 12, 2010; Actor/Producer Paul Walker saw a gap between the availability of skilled resources and the requirement for such personnel in post-disaster situations.  Following the trip he contacted a group of his friends to assist him in forming ROWW with the purpose of filling this unmet need.

ROWW is a network of committed professionals with first responder skill-set (including project management, logistics, heavy equipment operation, EMT, paramedic, firefighting, and healthcare, etc). The volunteers provide their expertise when disasters strike and augment local resources with the goal of accelerating relief efforts on a worldwide basis. ROWW has developed Standard Operating Procedures that facilitate arriving quickly, clearing access, providing basic necessities and medical assistance to ease the survivors’ pain and bringing hope in the bleakest of circumstances.

ROWW operates on the philosophy that by making a difference in just one person’s life, the world has been changed for the better.

*I have made support Donations for his cause many times, as they do great work for many in need…… *Donating Today*  http://www.roww.org/donate/

The Rodas Group

The Rodas Group 
Roger spent much of his early career racing Porsche GT3 Cup race cars in the Porsche Owner’s Club and other amateur race series.  Recently he raced in the Pirelli Porsche Driver’s Cup Series, where he took two first place finishes, six podiums, and finished second overall in the driver’s championship points. For 2013, Roger is taking the next step forward campaigning a Ford Racing Boss 302S Mustang in the Pirelli World Challenge Sportscar Championship Series.  No stranger to the fabled pony car, his personal collection consists of a wide assortment of limited production Saleen and Shelby Mustangs. His collection has become the heart of Always Evolving, a Southern California based operation that provides buys and sells luxury and performance cars, offers performance car builds full-service race preparation and team management.

Name:
Roger Rodas
Hometown:
Valencia, CA
Origin:
El Salvador
Birthday:
10/31/75

R.I.P ~~ Roger Rodas
GOD BLESS ALL,

Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon XoXo