PITMAN - A night of stand-up comedy will raise money for people dealing with the problem of drug addiction.
Stand Up 2 Addiction will feature four comedians — including "Beer League" star and former Howard Stern regular Artie Lange — to the Broadway Theatre in Pitman on Jan. 8 for a benefit to aid families dealing with addiction.
Pitman resident and stand-up comedian Jimmy Graham, who started a nonprofit to help families with loved ones in recovery deal with their day-to-day expenses, organized the fundraiser and will also perform.
Steve Trevelise, a Philadelphia-area radio personality and stand-up comedian, and Tim Grill, who has spina bifida and calls himself "the Barely Can Stand-Up Comic," are also on the bill.
Tickets are $25 and are available online at www.thebroadwaytheatre.org
_“Jimmy Roundboy” Graham, makes others laugh while deep inside, his heart breaks for those who battle addiction. The Pitman comedian’s 2 sons are substance abusers and their journey has forced Graham to take matters into his own hands.
Jimmy’s fight against drug dealers has landed him on the radio
and on the covers of newspapers . Now, Graham is taking his fight one step further. Graham has set up Stand Up To Addiction, a charity to help the families of those dealing with addiction.
Graham started this fight against drug dealers with a video urging parents to check their children’s cell phone and take a proactive stance against heroin/opiate dealers. He had yard signs made that read, “Not in Our Town, STOP or LEAVE” and placed them on the lawns of those in Pitman.
Jimmy Graham: My kids are addicts and I'm fighting back
After repeated visits from police with reported complaints and visits from the drug dealers themselves, Graham stood fast against those that wanted him to cease and desist. Those that wanted him to stop his crusade included local police, government and citizens afraid of the effects on their property value and reputations.
He took abusers that wanted help to social services, meetings, rehab and for those in a position to help and council, had another sign printed that showed support for his cause “NOT IN OUR TOWN, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH,” selling them using the profits to buy groceries, gas, help with utility bills, etc.
Graham then set up a page listing resources for families and those dealing with the plight of substance abuse followed by opening a GoFundMe account, the proceeds in turn enabled him to create Stand Up To Addiction, a NJ nonprofit corporation designated to assisting the families of substance abusers.
Graham has worked directly with Michele Perez of The City of Angels, as well as Sgt. Danielle LoRusso Sgt./Commander of the Gangs, Gun, and Narcotics Task Force in Gloucester County and Detective Sgt. Hunter Moore of The Pitman Police Dept providing information, tips and speaking at town hall meetings and forums throughout the county and state as well as radio appearances. Through all these combined efforts, arrests have been made in the past several weeks that included Graham’s targeted dealers throughout Pitman.
The Comic has started booking national and state celebrities such as Artie Lange, Tim Grill and myself to perform with proceeds to benefit his non-profit. The first event is set to be held at The Broadway Theater in Pitman NJ on January 9, 2016.
Like Jimmy says “Help if you can…Help if you need it!!”
Pitman police, resident at odds over signs about drugs
Phaedra Trethan, @CP_Phaedra5:35 p.m. EDT September 20, 2015
Buy Photo(Photo: John Ziomek/Staff Photographer)
CONNECTTWEETLINKEDIN 1COMMENTEMAILMOREPITMAN Jimmy Graham says he wants to bring attention to the heartbreak of addiction — and call out those who are facilitating it.
Pitman police say he's "crossed the line into vigilantism," jeopardizing ongoing investigations and interfering with police efforts, even if he's doing so unintentionally.
Graham, a stand-up comedian and substitute teacher, has been placing signs on the lawns of those he believes are dealing drugs in the small, tight-knit borough; he's also offered signs to families struggling with the fallout of their loved ones' addictions — something Graham himself has experienced.
"If people hide addiction, if people are ashamed of it, no one is ever going to get better," Graham said, explaining why he's putting out signs reading "Not in our town. Stop or leave," addressed to those he says are providing drugs to young people in Pitman, and others that say "Not in our town. Enough is enough," to addicts' families and other supporters.
"If we start to treat this like a disease, which is what it is, the community can come together and help people get better."
It's a struggle Graham, a longtime Pitman resident, finds painfully familiar.
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Both of his sons have been in the throes of addiction: His oldest son and namesake became addicted to painkillers after a back injury. Now sober, the younger Jimmy Graham, 30, is living in Pennsylvania, his father said, and training to become a minister.
Graham's younger son was prescribed opiates when he broke his wrist as a high school senior; recalling his brother's struggle, Graham said, he and his wife were careful to dole out the medication only as prescribed; but he, too, fell victim.
"Once you introduce opiates to the immature brain, it becomes impossible to keep them off it," Graham said.
The 26-year-old is living with Graham and his wife, newly sober and trying to rebuild his life.
"We're praying he's turned a corner," Graham said.
But when his son relapsed two months ago, Graham decided he needed to do more than just send him back to rehab.
"I read his texts, and I saw where he was getting the drugs," Graham said. "I took the phone and showed the texts to the police, but they said their hands were tied — unless they catch someone in the act of selling drugs, they can't really do anything.
"That frustrated me."
Realizing he knew the person he believed was providing his son with drugs, Graham said, "made me say, 'Hey, I'm going to let the world know what you're doing here.'"
He also wanted to protect others, he said: "I wanted to let parents who are walking their kids to school know, this is where these people are who are giving drugs to our kids."
He created a Facebook page, Stand Up to Addiction, in late August to let people know they're not alone in their struggle. It had 1,225 followers as of late Friday.
How do those who receive a sign react?
"Most of them yank them out immediately," Graham said. "One guy came to my house. I wasn't home — a neighbor told me."
41 arrested in Camden heroin sweep
Pitman Police Chief Robert Zimmerman apparently wasn't happy about the signs, either.
In a Sept. 15 Facebook post on the department's page, Zimmerman wrote, "I have no tolerance for those that attempt to take matters into their own hands, and cross the line into vigilantism. I have no tolerance for those that use a platform that disrupts or ruins our on-going investigations, and inhibits our ability to police the community effectively.
"I understand the frustration, especially as is (sic) pertains to illegal drugs. I have also made it a priority to address the drug problem head-on, allocating all resources and manpower necessary that's available to us," the post continued.
"I am respectfully requesting that you support our police, and relay information to our police department that can enhance our ability to legally investigate, arrest and prosecute the 'bad guys.' By interfering and taking matters into your own hands, you may be creating liability and safety issues for yourself, and you could be interfering with police investigations without even realizing. Interfering with police investigations could be a violation of criminal law through the obstruction of justice."
"I was a bit hurt, and a bit insulted," Graham said of the post. "I understand how the police need to do their jobs, but time equals bodies, and there have been situations that could have been taken care of already that haven't been."
By Michelle Durham
PITMAN, N.J., (CBS) — A New Jersey dad who spent months and thousands of dollars to help his sons conquer their drug addiction has formed a foundation to help other families cope with the high cost of rehab for their loved one.
There is a fundraiser Friday night that is designed to make you smile as you help.
When Jimmy Graham discovered both of his sons were addicted to drugs he went through his sons’ phones and went public with the fight.
“I found out who the dealers were. I had yard signs made and I put them in the dealer’s front yards,” said Graham.
He put both sons in rehab, a very expensive proposition because most insurance plans only pay for 30 days when Graham says most addicts need a minimum of 90 days, sometimes more.
“After that I started a non-profit organization Stand Up 2 Addiction to benefit the parents, children and siblings of people who were addicted,” said Graham.
Graham said he was prepared to go hungry if it meant his sons could stay in rehab, but he doesn’t want anyone else in that situation. Jimmy is a stand-up comic and he plans to take the stage Friday night at the Broadway Theater in Pitman along with famed colleagues Artie Lange, Tim Grill and Steve Trevelise. Show starts at 8 p.m. All proceeds go to the foundation.
By Nora Muchanic
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
PITMAN, N.J. (WPVI) --
Retired high school football coach Jimmy Graham of Pitman is used to taking on tough challenges.
His mission now? Fighting heroin and other drugs he says have killed at least two dozen of his former students and helping local families struggling with addiction.
"If you know there's support out there, you know other people are going through this just like you are, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel," Graham said.
Graham, who makes his living now as a stand-up comedian, says there was nothing funny about the heroin addiction his two sons fought. He says like many parents he had no idea they were using drugs.
"You don't want to recognize it at first, but if you don't, you're going to deny your child right in to the grave," Graham said.
Graham got his sons help and they are now clean.
He's started a non-profit called Stand Up to Addiction and runs a Facebook page by the same name offering advice and contacts.
He's also been confronting known drug dealers by planting signs on their lawns that read "Not in our town, stop or leave."
Graham has gotten threats and says sometimes the signs are taken down as quickly as he puts them up. But he's not discouraged.
He is, however, disappointed.
"I found out also some of the dealers were my wrestlers and football players, too, and that just killed me," Graham said.
Graham says he tries to convince dealers to get out of the business, but his focus is families who need information and support.
"If we can all get over the thought of being embarrassed about this and say 'look, my child has a problem and I need help,' there is help," Graham said.
Jimmy Graham hopes to begin meetings soon at a local church and will be doing several comedy shows to raise money for his organization.
By Brittany M. Wehner | For NJ.com
On August 26, 2015 at 6:43 AM, updated August 26, 2015 at 9:07 AM
PITMAN — Jimmy Graham sat on his front steps and let out a sigh as he recalled the continuous journey his family has faced in the fight against drug addiction.
The Pitman parent watched as his own children battled different wars against drugs and took the pain his family endured over the years and turned it into a non-profit mission for families in need.
Stand Up to Addiction is shoulder for parents and family members to lean on while their loved ones battle addiction. His motto? "Laugh in the face of addiction."
"I'm a parent. My own children got caught up in addiction. I was ignorant to it at the time," Graham said.
"We were blind to it for years and finally, the truth came out and gripped us hard," the parent said.
What began as an accidental injury led to a monstrous war against drug addiction, the father said, remembering the years his children fought for their lives in recovery.
One son broke his wrist and struggled with prescription drug use while his other, a veteran, came home injured and he too got caught up in the madness.
"I researched and I found out everything I could to get them help. There is a lot of programs out there to help addicts, which is absolutely awesome and I love that," the father said.
"But there's absolutely nothing for families, parents of their loved ones. When they find out about this stuff, they are at a loss. There's no one to talk to, share with, or get help from," the parent continued.
Living in a small town, everyone knows everyone, according to Graham, which made him face a new reality — the fight was in his own backyard.
"In our society today, the corner dealer is no more. Kids are meeting up with friends, in houses, getting drugs and distributing it themselves," Graham said.
Originally hiding from the obstacles his family faced, Graham decided "no more" and stepped into the light to bring hope to other families and smash stigma against addiction.
"I started seeing more and more people and I knew they were the same as us, in the same boat. I researched it and for me, I needed someone to talk to because I was losing my mind."
MORE: Pennsville police proactive in 'war on drugs'
The father, though a fierce advocate against the war on drugs, also has a compassionate heart and said he'd never turn his back on someone struggling.
"I was brought up by great parents — they wouldn't turn their back on me. I've spoken with addicts and alcoholics. It's about not being afraid to talk about your addiction and always seeking help," Graham said.
"I had seen the damage done to parents, to children of addicts first-handed. There is nothing for them," the parent continued.
As part of the non-profit, the father had signs made up to take a stand against drug dealers in town, and raise a voice that dealing will not be tolerated.
These signs say "Not in our town, stop or leave" that can be placed in front yards.
Graham has been a comedian for many years and is using his talents to raise funds for families in need.
Through his work Graham hopes to provide parents and family members with resources, support, and connections so that no one feels alone.
"When you're a parent dealing with this, you can't help but come depressed. You become desperate and you gotta cope with that. It makes you hopeless and you don't have anyone to talk to," Graham said.
For more information on Graham or Stand Up to Addiction, visit the Facebook page here.
Brittany Wehner may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @brittanymwehner. Find her on Facebook.
Bambi Kohler: Ex-coach tackles heroin addiction head onBy Katie Bambi Kohler, The Times Herald
POSTED: 09/12/15, 12:01 AM EDT |
If you’ve seen Jimmy Graham perform standup comedy once it isn’t hard to see why he has been doing it a long time. The guy with the nickname “Roundboy” rules the stage with his stature and his storytelling.
The retired longtime football and wrestling coach has former athletes who still refer to him as “coach” or “Uncle Jimmy.” It’s not just because he appeared on “Catch a Rising Star,” “The Howard Stern Show,” and other TV/film spots. He’s dedicated to seeing them succeed. And he’s hysterical.
But right now Graham is not in a laughing mood.
Both of his sons have struggled with a heroin addiction after becoming addicted to painkillers. He has been to two dozen funerals of former athletes who succumbed to their struggles with addiction.
“I was a happy man but I’m not anymore. I’m not going to visit a slab of marble with my sons’ name on it. How could I ever smile again if I didn’t have my babies?” said Graham.
Graham started a nonprofit called Stand Up to Addiction and runs a Facebook page by the same name offering advice and contacts. In his two square mile town of Pittman, N.J., Graham is taking eye-catching action posting red lawn signs ― “Not in Our Town. Stop or Leave” ― on drug dealers’ yards. Neighbors have been quick to ask for the green signs ― “Not in Our Town, Enough is Enough” ― to place on their own lawns in support of Graham’s mission.
The problem is not confined to Pittman or any town, especially Montgomery County.
In September 2014 Commissioner Josh Shapiro announced the establishment of the Montgomery County Overdose Task Force to analyze the issue of increased opioid deaths and provide recommendations on how the county could combat this epidemic. According to the report, opioid-related overdoses have reached national epidemic levels and continue to climb rapidly. Pennsylvania ranked seventh in the nation for heroin and prescription drug fatalities rising seven spots in one year. In 2013, there where 46 heroin deaths and 134 drug related deaths in Montgomery County.
“We have a problem that rises to the level of epidemic proportions — here, across our region and country. A lot of lives are being destroyed, users as well as the lives of their family members,” said First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele, who was one of the chairmen on the task force.
According to the report, the reason for such a dramatic surge may be attributed to the demand of prescription medications containing highly addictive synthetic opioids.
That was the case with both of Graham’s sons: One broke his wrist during senior year of wrestling and the doctors inserted a screw along with prescribing painkillers. His older son was a search and rescue swimmer who hurt his back during a dive.
“The first step in any addict getting help is admitting they have a problem,” said Graham. “Parents don’t want to share. They are embarrassed but it’s the only way you are going to get help is if you reach out. Getting it out in the open and finding resources to help other kids is key. Once they get wrapped up into it the only thing they are looking for is their next high. They made their own culture and acceptance of it. We have to get them help because the ultimate end to this is death.”
Both of Graham’s boys have been through extensive rehab programs and he hopes the nonprofit will help families who have exhausted their funds helping their children recover from addiction.
“Once I investigated, I talked to every addict I knew, it was some of my athletes who were the dealers. This is the kid that called me coach. It killed me,” said Graham. “There isn’t a need for street corner sellers anymore. These are college kids who talk through social media and cell phones. The dealers are still there and they reach out. It’s hard to say no. The sad part is they do the same amount when they stopped and they overdose. Once that cycle starts again, you’re back into it. It changes their personality, it makes them great talkers. They know what to say, and have this illusion they are smarter but all they are doing are burning trust and love.”
Graham identified the dealers by going through the texts on his sons’ phone. Some signs where taken down immediately but he replaced them the next night.
“There is a misconception that every dealer uses. There are absolutely people doing it for profit and power. Every dealer is not an addict. There are people out there profiting on death,” said Graham.
Is he afraid of the wrath of dealers? Does he worry for his own safety?
“No, because there is no fear greater to a parent than losing their child. I’ve felt that fear. There is nothing worse they can do to me than that. I’m not going to allow people to mask themselves as an addict and sell. I’m not going to stop.”