Remembering an angel: Bryan's HOPE founder dies at 55 from pancreatic cancer

The founder of an influential and life-saving nonprofit in Oakland County has passed away. 

Jeannie Richards, the founder of Bryan's HOPE, has died. She passed away Wednesday, Feb. 27 at the age of 55. 

Richards lost her son, Bryan, to a heroin overdose eight years ago. A short time later she started a nonprofit to raise awareness and money to purchase naloxone kits for local addicts, as well as for the Oakland County Sheriff's Office. Sadly, her life did not get any easier following the tragedy.

Last November she was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. The very next month she lost another son, Tony, to medical complications. She is survived by her husband, Jeff, her children, Justin and Larissa, and two grandchildren. Her efforts in the opioid crisis are said to have saved hundreds of lives. 

She was one of the first Amy's Angels in 2015 for raising awareness about the heroin epidemic consuming southeastern Michigan. 

Her son Bryan fell into a heroin addiction after taking medicine prescribed by a doctor for a basketball injury. It's a heartbreaking reality for many unfortunately, including Red Wings announcer Ken Daniels whose son also died from a heroin overdose in 2016. His family believes his addiction started with pain killers prescribed after his wisdom teeth were pulled.

"There's something more horrific about that drug than anything we've known because this drug gets in your head and it completely takes over," Richards told us in 2015. "It's as easy to get it as it is a pizza."

Bryan's HOPE members have held community action meetings and gone to several rallies. The group was also awarded a grant for naloxone auto injectors. It received 200 of the life-saving kits, and they offer overdose prevention training all over Oakland County.

In 2017, Bryan's HOPE also received a very special honor: the DEA's Community Drug Prevention Award. The award highlights grassroots efforts against drugs.  

You can learn more about Bryan's HOPE and its efforts here

A memorial service for Richards will be held on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, 11:00 a.m. at Lifepoint Christian Church, 501 Scott Lake Road, Waterford. The family will receive friends at the church on Tuesday 10 a.m. until time of service.