The scourge of dangerous drugs took his son, but Wayne Campbell and others in the Pickerington community are confronting addiction by bringing awareness and prevention resources to their community.

The scourge of dangerous drugs took his son, but Wayne Campbell and others in the Pickerington community are confronting addiction by bringing awareness and prevention resources to their community.

Tyler Campbell seemingly had it all - or at least as much as most teenagers - when he graduated from Pickerington High School North in 2007 and set out to play Division I football at the University of Akron.

He realized goals many people only dream of, including entrance to college and playing football against the Ohio State Buckeyes in Ohio Stadium.

But injuries brought on by football during Campbell's sophomore season led to shoulder surgery, and soon, the use of painkillers to get through practices and games developed into an opiate-based addiction.

That addiction soon became more than Campbell could control, and it led him to be released from the Zips football team and out of school in spring 2010. He was in and out of rehabilitation centers, getting clean numerous times only to relapse.

Ultimately, despite attempts by his parents, Wayne and Christy, to keep him away from drugs and other bad influences, Tyler turned - as many who are addicted to opiates do - to the relatively cheap and readily available street drug, heroin. He died of an accidental overdose on July 22, 2011.

Tyler's death, at age 23, still is hard for his family, including brothers Ryan and Alex, to comprehend.

Christy Campbell has difficulty staying composed when she talks about it, Wayne Campbell said. He himself simply hasn't come to terms with the fact his son, a great athlete who was bright and charming for most of his young life, is no longer here.

"On an emotional side, kids are our most precious possession," Wayne Campbell said. "They're born to you. It's hard to describe the connection and it's even harder when they're lost.

"When one goes away, it's almost paralyzing."

Wayne Campbell admits he was locked in overwhelming paralysis when 12 neighbors and friends visited him two weeks after Tyler's death.

Of course, they were sad, but more than that, they were angry, Campbell said.

"It was just a knee-jerk reaction by a lot of neighbors and friends who were angry and frustrated," he said. "We said, 'We've got to do something about this thing that's going on in our community.'"

Based on that impromptu gathering, Campbell and numerous friends and neighbors formed Tyler's Light, a nonprofit foundation designed to equip youths in Pickerington and throughout Fairfield County with the resources to help them choose a drug-free life, while also providing resources for family members and friends who are involved in the battle to defeat drug abuse.

The grassroots effort has now grown to include more than 100 people and nine committees, which seek to do everything from raise awareness of drugs as a local problem, to educating youths and parents about the dangers and signs of drug abuse and even raising money to help develop drug-prevention programs and link those in need to assistance.

Last fall, Tyler's Light held a "town hall meeting," in which more than 150 people turned out to hear about Tyler's battles and the issues of opiates and illegal drugs in the community.

The organization also holds regular fundraisers to support its cause, and this summer is planning a 5K run to both remember Tyler and raise money to further the Tyler's Light cause.

"The problem is, in Pickerington and many places, people don't want to acknowledge we have a drug problem," Campbell said. "We think it's too nice where we live.

"We wanted to say, 'How do we stop it here, and how do we keep it out?'"

Campbell said the Tyler's Light board of directors and its various committees meet twice a month as they continue plans for spreading their message, forge new partnerships and raising money that ultimately will go toward drug-prevention programs and possibly helping parents and individuals in need with drug treatment resources.

"With drugs, you have no idea the roller coaster or playground slide you're on," Campbell said. "There's a razorblade at the end.

"If we can just get people to come out to something like a town hall meeting and listen, that's a huge step. We can draw people to the meetings and get them information to raise awareness and get them to the resources they need.

"We're not the resource professionals, but we can help. We're going to put you in the right direction."

Additional information about Tyler's Light can be found at www.tylerslight.com.