ELBRIDGE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Parents who recently lost their son are vowing to make a difference in the world of addiction.

As a kid, Joey Hess had a solid identity. A sports fan, he loved the outdoors, hunting and fishing.

“Fishing was big with him,” said Joey’s stepfather Jason Morrell. “He would scoot over across the road, through people’s yards, and go to the golf course and hunt down golf balls. He had a big bin, huge bin full of golf balls.”

Joey’s mother Ann Morrell expressed how much of a lover he was too.

“Joey loved to love, and loved to be loved,” said Ann Morrell.

A happy, playful good kid, who, as a teen, took the wrong path, and got lost in addiction. 

He battled ADHD, growing up and anxiety and…just started hanging out, with bad kids you know, the wrong crowd basically.

Joey’s stepfather, Jason Morrell

“He ended up buying Visa cards and ordering synthetic drugs from other countries and he would get the mail before we got home so we didn’t even know it,” Ann Morrell explained.

They soon realized Joey needed help. Rehab seemed to work for a while, but earlier this year, at the age of 24,  Joey lost his battle with addiction and died of an accidental overdose.

Joey’s life mirrors those of so many trapped by addiction. Being in and out of rehab, distressed and upset family and friends. 

I’ve always had this analogy that when an addict starts using or experimenting that they turn on a light switch and there’s no off position. They can dim it with inpatient, outpatient, rehabs, meetings, counseling. Joey started going to church. He was working full-time. He was doing everything that he possibly could. But there’s just no way to turn it off.

Joey’s mother, Ann Morrell

Lighting the way, Ann and Jason created a legacy nonprofit, Joey’s Wish.

Money raised is going to a dedicated fund at the Upstate Foundation, and a second not-for-profit that sends money anywhere in the world showing the most promising research. 

 “We’re going to have as many fundraisers as we can to raise money. We’re even standing outside of Walmart selling candy bars, you know?” Ann Morrell said.

Another fundraiser they are planning is a big Bowl-A-Thon on Saturday, March 4 and Joey is on the flyer.

“He’s actually in our flyer. When you see the flyer, it’s a picture of him. And if you look at the score. He has two strikes and then an eight and then the one that he was bowling in, the picture is another strike,” Ann Morrell continued.

So many pictures, capturing so many good memories. Inspiring the mission to find real solutions for others. 

“All those ways to dim the light, is like a bandaid…to just get them by for today, or for the next 30 days of 60 days, we want something that they can go to, that’s permanent,” Ann Morrell expressed.

Research and reaching out to others struggling with addiction, letting them know, there is help and hope. Ann and Jason are certain that would have been Joey’s wish.   

If you have bottles and cans piling up in your garage, that collection can do some real good. Joey’s Wish Bottle and Can Drive is this Saturday, December 10th, at Hurdy’s Redemption and Beverage Center in Elbridge. 

All the money raised will go to leading scientific research seeking to end addiction at the source. 

Click here for more about Joey’s Wish.