Kathy O’Keefe is a remarkable woman. She’s exceedingly compassionate, sharp as a tack, and she can recall the smallest numerical details from events that happened years ago. She is also Flower Mound’s self-proclaimed “Drug Lady.”

After the drug-related death of her son, O’Keefe founded the 501c3 organization Winning the Fight in 2011 to provide drug education to Flower Mound’s youth and to provide resources to families struggling with the disease of addiction.

“On March 20, 2010, we lost our 18-year-old to an accidental overdose of Xanax and heroin,” O’Keefe said. “God immediately said, ‘You need to do something.’”

After her son, Brett O’Keefe, overdosed three times, was hospitalized and attended rehabilitation programs, Kathy O’Keefe found that she – and her community – were in dire need of practical, informative drug education.

“We took a breath, and we realized that we lacked education, we lacked support, we lacked resources. It created isolation,” she said. “We brought a strategic plan to the community and said, ‘What do you need?’ Ultimately, we needed a conduit between kids and resources.”

In 2010, O’Keefe said that despite three teens dying from heroin use within a few miles of one another, Flower Mound didn’t have a narcotics unit specifically designed to investigate incidents involving narcotics. Eventually, a massive DEA investigation led to the indictment of 17 individuals for heroin-related crimes.

“I thought, ‘Something big is going on here,’” she said. “Kids were dying so quickly.”

WTF exists as a pipeline that connects schools, parents, and kids to potentially life-saving information. In August 2014, WTF released its first documentary entitled, “Not Me.” O’Keefe said 641 parents, adolescents, and members of school administration attended the film’s screening. Since then, WTF has released two other documentaries detailing the real life danger and issues behind drug use.

“Our most recent documentary is called ‘Just Once,’” O’Keefe said. “We’ve shown it at McKinney high schools and middle schools for two semesters.”

O’Keefe emphasized that drug education needs to start earlier than when many parents think.

“This conversation needs to be in middle school,” she said. “We also need to pay attention to mental health. We have to start paying attention to why kids are self-medicating.”

O’Keefe believes school may have been a major factor in her son’s self-medication with drugs.

“Brett hated school because his ADHD made it difficult for him to work,” she said. “His anxiety grew to a point where he didn’t want to go to school anymore.”

Recognizing the vital part mental health plays in reducing drug use, WTF staff and volunteers provided 313 referrals to mental health professionals, visited 26 facilities to ensure adequate resources are provided, and attended 18 seminars focused on mental health in 2019 alone.

“There are lots of really good things that happen, but you’re battling Satan,” O’Keefe said. “It’s a horrid battle. It’s exhausting.”

Another aspect of WTF’s mission is providing resources specifically to parents in families affected by drug use. The organization hosts a revitalization retreat geared toward parents of children suffering from drug dependence. The one-day retreat has five different therapies to help parents process their feelings and experiences.

“These parents have PTSD,” O’Keefe said. “You know, they’re waking up at all hours of the night expecting a phone call saying their kid is in jail or dead.”

O’Keefe hopes to fight the stigma of addiction that often exacerbates drug use and leads to further loneliness.

“Our biggest thing is don’t sit in isolation,” she said. “If you have a problem, come forward, get help. You don’t need to be alone.”

O’Keefe said families can request help by contacting WTF via wtf-winningthefight.org. You can also request help by calling the number listed on WTF’s website – O’Keefe’s personal cell number.

“My phone number’s everywhere,” she said. “If you need me, call me. If you’re in a jam, call me. Just reach out.”

Despite leading a group dedicated to saving the lives of its community’s youth for the past 10 years, O’Keefe insists that she’s simply dedicated to a higher purpose.

“I didn’t do this,” she said. “God is doing this. He’s just using me.”

photo of group by Kathy O’Keefe

Like what you see?

Subscribe to our newsletter!