Along with members of my family, I formed the Taylor Hooton Foundation in February of 2004 just 7 months after the tragic loss of our son, Taylor. He committed suicide following his use of anabolic steroids. After Taylor’s death, we were committed to learning everything we could about anabolic steroids and appearance and performance enhancing drugs.
First, we were stunned to learn that steroid use among young teens/young adults are at epidemic levels across the US and Canada. Most experts agree that about 6% of high school students have knowingly taken appearance and performance enhancing drugs (about a million children) and the number continues to rise each year. These numbers do not include the huge number of our kids that are unknowingly ingesting steroids via the spiked supplements that they are purchasing over the counter at the local health food stores.
Second, kids are motivated to use this class of drugs not only because they want to compete in athletics, but because they want to “look better.” And lastly, and I think most important, virtually no one is talking to our kids about these dangerous drugs.
Hence the Taylor Hooton Foundation was created to bring attention to this devastating problem and to educate kids about the dangers of appearance and performance enhancing drugs. Our vision is to reach the day when appearance and performance enhancing drugs will no longer be a part of our high school and college students’ lives.
Our organization is built on a set of core values: honesty, integrity, fair play and healthy competition. We teach kids that there are ways to achieve their goals through exercise, diet, and hard work.
We are making progress, but we’ve still got a mountain in front of us. Elite athletes continue to set a poor example for our children, these drugs are readily available to our children, and parents and educators are reluctant to admit that there are a large number of kids using these drugs. But I remain optimistic that we will reach our goals.
While standing on the porch of the funeral home after Taylor’s wake, I commented to our friend “What is this awful thing, and why isn’t anyone talking about it?” It was then that I realized that God had given me the gift that no one would ever want. Because I lost my son to steroids, I have been given the assignment to speak out and to lead the effort to educate our children to make a difference in their culture and in their lives.
We are doing our best to be that positive voice and with your help and continued support, we will continue to lead this charge into the future.