John co-founded HERO in 2010 after losing his son, Billy Roberts, to heroin. Turning his grief outward he decided to found HERO with the goal of helping families who have gone through similar situations with their own children. As the organization grew John added a focus on prevention and treatment in addition to the original goal of supporting the families of children lost to heroin. John is a retired Chicago Police Department Captain actively involved in heroin-related legislation in Illinois and lives with his family in Homer Glen, Illinois.
Brian Kirk is the other half of the founding members of HERO. Brian lost his son, Matt Kirk, to a heroin overdose around the same period as John. After meeting and becoming close friends, Brian and John founded HERO together to cope with the loss of their sons. Brian has been instrumental in getting HERO started and in organizing the inaugural event. He retired from the University of Illinois at Chicago and resides in New Lenox, Illinois.
Paul Lauridsen is currently working at Stepping Stones Treatment Center in Joliet Illinois and works closely with the Southwest Coalition Against Substance Abuse in addition to his work with HERO.
Jan Dombrowski became involved with HERO when a nephew started using heroin. She began attending HERO’s Family Support Meetings to learn how to care for her nephew. She credits HERO with helping her nephew to stop using heroin, and today he has over 3 years sober and is doing well.
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.