AUBURN, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — An Auburn father who lost his son to opioid addiction is doing everything he can to help others. He runs a nonprofit called Nick’s Ride 4 Friends and thanks to a grant from the state, that organization is about to reach new levels.

It’s been four years since Joel Campagnola lost his 20-year-old son, Nick, to drug addiction. In his teens, Nick suffered from an injury in wrestling and his doctor gave him morphine.

“That is what opened up the gates. I mean he didn’t wake up one morning and say, I’m going to run five miles for wrestling, and then I’m going to go get addicted,” said Joel Campagnola, Founder of Nick’s Ride 4 Friends.
what started out with pills, turned to heroin.

Just three days after Christmas in 2015, a bag full of fentanyl and synthetic acid took his life.

“I said it’s, I’m done, you know what the hell’s it all about now? You know, I lost my fight I’m done,” Campagnola said.

But then Joel saw how many people showed up at his son’s calling hours and even more, how many just like him needed help. That’s when he picked the fight back up again, creating a safe space known as Nick’s Ride 4 Friends.

The organization gets addicts into a treatment facility, helps them through a detox at a local hospital, and then they stick with them on their journey, eventually bringing them back to the clubhouse.

“Whatever we need to do to help somebody from keeping that drink or that needle out of their hand,” Campagnola said.

Campagnola has his eye on 13 Chapel St. in Auburn, looking to expand Nick’s 4 Friends to turn it into a one-stop-shop. It would offer recovery services for addicts. That’s all in the works right now, thanks to a $940,000 state grant as part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

They’re looking to build a facility for medical, educational, and wellness needs.

“Things are going to get better. You gotta have hope. And to me, hope is an acronym. Hang on, pain ends, and it will,” Campagnola said.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction you can call or text Nick’s Ride 4 Friends at (315) 253- 3945. They also have a free app, you can text the word “FRIENDS” to 36-260 for the link to download it.

For more local news, follow Julia LeBlanc on Twitter @JleblancNC9.