Southampton man to ride 222 miles in honor of brother dead from heroin overdose



Last modified: Monday, February 22, 2016

SOUTHAMPTON — Growing up in Greenfield, Jared Herman of Southampton can’t remember a time when he and his stepbrother, Robert Benoit, weren’t together.

Between the bouts of classic older brother antics designed to toughen him up — whether they be booby-trapping his bedroom doorknob with glue or snagging the television remote away when watching their favorite shows — Herman said he and Benoit would go fishing where he was too afraid to put bait on the hook or touch the thrashing fish they’d just caught.

Those times, Benoit would shift to the role of mentoring big brother and do it for him.

Other times, they’d spend hours together playing video games, he said, or trying to convince each other that they’d actually caught a glimpse of Santa Claus himself out the window on Christmas Eve.

During times where acts of mischief landed one of them in bed early or got them grounded, the other would take the licks right along with him.

But as they grew older, Herman and Benoit, who was commonly known as “Court,” began to grow apart as Benoit took a few wrong turns, got into a few spots of trouble and eventually developed a drug addiction.

“We’d visit sometimes and during the holidays, but we saw him less as time went on,” Herman said.

Benoit had tried to kick his addiction, Herman said, but last spring, it caught up with him in the worst of ways. Like thousands of others statewide who have been touched by a growing prescription drug and heroin abuse epidemic, Benoit experienced an overdose that left him hospitalized and comatose.

“I got a text one day at work that read “Court overdosed” and my heart sank,” Herman said. “It dropped like a rock. I couldn’t speak and I didn’t really know what to think. I sat in silence for a while until I left for the hospital. When I got there I saw my family in the lobby and couldn’t help but to break down in tears.”

He spent the next few days waiting and wishing that his brother would wake up and be all right.

“I wanted to see him get up and just sign himself out,” he said “I wanted him to wake up and make fun of me for how ugly I looked when I cried.”

But that never happened. On April 5, 2015, complications from the overdose claimed Benoit’s life. Herman’s 21st birthday, just a few days later, coincided with the funeral.

“It wasn’t exactly a conventional birthday,” said Herman during an interview. But this year, he plans on having another unconventional one with a planned 222-mile long bike ride from Southampton to Provincetown, dedicated to Benoit’s memory.

And, he’s collecting pledges through an account on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe.com, which he plans to donate to the regional Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin, which works to combat the ongoing opioid crisis in western Massachusetts.

He set a goal of $2,222, but as of Feb. 19, he’s raised more than $3,800. He said he hopes the money will have an impact on the lives of other struggling with addiction in Franklin County.

“I know it’s so bad in Greenfield, and Court had an apartment here, so I wanted this to have a connection to the area,” Herman said of choosing the Task Force to receive the funds. “It has a heroin problem that’s only getting worse, so I want to keep the (Task Force) going as much as possible.”

“Every cent will go towards helping to fight against this epidemic and helping others in need of support,” he said. “Every mile is for (Court) and every dollar will go towards helping others with an opioid addiction in hopes of stopping something that has ruined so many lives.”

The fundraiser will run through April 9 at www.gofundme.com/CourtsRide.


 

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