Photography by Amanda Duke
Nancy Davis is not one to simply fund a cause, she LIVES for the cause.
Along with Race to Erase MS, another cause that she is dedicated to is funding research to help people who are affected by addictions. Determined to make a difference in the lives of addicts and their loved ones, Nancy and her son, Jason Davis, co-founded a nonprofit, Cure Addiction Now (CAN) in 2018. To date, CAN has funded more than a handful of studies researching critical aspects of addiction.
Nancy explains, “We are gathering the best doctors and researchers in the field to study the causes of addiction, the brain activity involved, and the genetic links.” This team, dubbed the Scientific Dream Team by Nancy, includes stellar minds from prestigious institutions such as Harvard, Johns Hopkins, UCLA, Mount Sinai and others. The program’s goals are aggressive and rational. A basic aim is to remove the stigma of being an addict, and the societal shame and blame endured by the family.
“Addiction is a disease,” Nancy emphasizes. “And,” she goes on to pronounce, “a disease is a disease. Any disease is the worst disease in the world if you have it, or your loved one dies from it. Those suffering from this disease need to be treated as patients, not criminals,” she asserts.
Nancy acknowledges that her son, Jason, was struggling off and on for 12 years with addiction issues. He was working alongside his mother and others establishing CAN when he became an early victim of possible Covid.
“He was clean for nine months,” remembers Nancy, “but then at the beginning of 2020 he succumbed to a double pulmonary embolism as a result of possible Covid.” He was only 35. Jason was an actor and the voice of Mikey Blumberg from the animated TV series Recess. “He was very creative and funny,” says Nancy. “He was the love of my life.”
In honor of Jason, his brother Brandon Davis, and his twin sisters Isabella and Mariella Rickel, are key executives in the CAN organization and take an active role in its operations. The 17-year-old twins are proactively campaigning and creating PSAs to get Narcan (the opioid overdose medication) readily available over the counter. “You can save a friend,” is the powerful theme of this campaign.
While the work continues to honor Jason, the pain of losing a child remains with Nancy. In memory of her son, Nancy has written a book, titled, Just One More Day, that will be out soon. The book’s idea actually came from a script that Jason had written when he was grieving as a young man. “The premise,” says Nancy, “was that if you could bring the person you are grieving back for just one more perfect day, how would you spend those 24 hours?”
She hopes this book can be healing to so many people who would have liked to have had just one more day. “Sadly,” she says, “during Covid so many people didn’t get a chance to say good-bye. Their loved ones were just gone.”
“This book has helped me heal. I hope it will do the same for others.”