December 18, 2011
Excerpts taken from “A Body to Die For“, originally published in the New York Daily News. Pete Kennedy was just another guy in the small town of East Berne, New York. A sleepy farming community, Kennedy was known as the person to talk to if something needed fixing. “He could build anything,” Barbara Kennedy says of her son. “You could give him something that didn’t work, and he would fix it. He would fix my tractor, my car, fix my aunt’s vehicles. Friends would call and say, ‘Pete, I have a problem,’ and he’d say, ‘Bring it over.'” As much as Kennedy enjoyed tinkering, he also enjoyed spending time with his friends. Unfortunately, staying a little too late at his favorite bar, the Maple Inn, landed Kennedy two DUI’s. Part of his probation was that he couldn’t bring alcohol, so he took to lifting weights and working out. It wasn’t until after months of intense training that his loved ones found out he was injecting himself with steroids, by landing in the hospital. The signs of steroids had been visible, rapid increases in weight and acne on his back. He was initially checked into the hospital a few weeks before his 28th with a severe cold. He had vehemently denied using steroids when asked, but he would never leave the hospital. “Pete already in St. Peter’s Hospital after complaining of a persistent cold, extreme fatigue and shortness of breath. Within hours of his admission, his kidneys shut down, his liver began to fail and his heart was enlarged. His blood was full of toxins. Doctors induced a coma as they figured out how to proceed.” Kennedy’s mother received a call from one of her son’s friends, tipping her off that Pete may have been using steroids. She searched his room and found the sad truth, vials filled with various liquid steroids. (She) began to sob. “My heart just dropped to the floor,” she says. Kennedy’s story is unique, in that he wasn’t playing sports and didn’t have a dream to be on a muscle magazine cover. He simply wanted to improve his physique. And that’s an important lesson. There are intense forces at work, demanding our youth look a certain way. It’s easy to cave to these pressures, and could arguably be even easier to get steroids. “They are much more pleasant things to think about than the persons who sold the eight bottles of steroids that made their way inside Pete Kennedy’s safe. “If a hillbilly on top of a mountain can get a hold of it, then it can get anywhere,” (Ms. Kennedy) says.” If you’re a parent or educator, if you look past the athletes you may see that other teenagers are experimenting with steroids. If you are a teenager and are thinking about dabbling with steroids, let Pete’s story serve as a cautionary tale of the dangers you’re dealing with. If you need more educational resources, please check out our section on how to talk to kids about steroids. Please contact us with any questions you may have, or if you’d like to schedule a Hoot’s Chalk Talk for your child’s school, sports team, or any other group that needs this message.