Mother finds 'way to give back' after losing daughter to addicti - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Mother finds 'way to give back' after losing daughter to addiction


Fighting back tears as she talks about her daughter, Lorie Vantilburg understands addiction and the toll it takes on families all too well.

"There's no worse feeling in the world," said Vantilburg. "No parent plans to put money aside for their kid's funeral."

Vantilburg's daughter, Victoria, died of a heroin overdose right before her 22nd birthday.

"People make (parents) feel like they should be ashamed that their child died from an overdose. We shouldn't be ashamed. There shouldn't be a stigma to it. We should be reaching out to help," said Vantilburg.

However, at the time, Vantilburg said she didn't have anyone to talk to.

"My family was grieving. My friends didn't know what to say, and I would sit and cry alone at night," she said.

Vantilburg came across the online group,, which helped, but she said she wanted to do more. She co-founded Heroin Memorial, a nonprofit organization that raises money to help families with the unexpected costs that come with a loved one's passing.

"I figured it was a good way to give back," Vantilburg said.

Using money raised from donations, jewelry, and key chain sales, the group helps struggling families pay funeral expenses. It's a simple yet heartfelt gesture Vantilburg says people are grateful for.

"There's nothing worse than your kid sitting in a plastic bag in a box on a shelf," said Vantilburg. 

Vantilburg said the organization not only helps families with funds, it's helped give her a peace of mind following her daughter's unexpected passing. 

"I'm glad she's where she's at," she said. 

Vantilburg is currently helping Michael Dunaway's family pay for an urn following his passing Nov. 22. Dunaway died from a drug overdose while his 4-year-old son was at home alone with him.

Dunaway's family, including the mother of his two children, Nicole Shank, struggled to come up with the money to cover his unexpected passing. 

"The organization is giving us a final resting place for Mike so we can keep him close to us forever. The funeral home, Cannon LoPresti and Catavolos, has gone above and beyond to help us say goodbye. Mike will be remembered as a loving daddy and a dedicated partner and uncle. He was loved by so many and we will not allow negativity and uneducated comments bring us down, especially while we are grieving. I hope people can educate themselves on how addiction can tear families apart and more people will commit to working together to fight this battle so many people are losing to every day," said Shank.

Vantilburg said urns typically cost families hundreds of dollars. Her goal is to give a family an urn every month.

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