WEST SENECA, N.Y. — Dick Gallagher's legacy runs strong at Kids Escaping Drugs.
Gallagher was also a familiar face to us here at 2 On Your Side with his high school sports coverage, and while he's been gone for almost a year now, the work he did at KED is continuing to help people who are struggling with addition.
"He made you want to be a better person every time you saw him, and he made you feel like you were the most important person in the room," KED director of development Suzanne D'Amico said.
Gallagher spent decades helping families, and especially young people, in the addiction treatment field. Without him, Kids Escaping Drugs wouldn't be what it is today.
He was Jodie Altman's mentor.
"He was a man that would stop what he was doing to help you, whether he knew you or he didn't know you. He would stop what he was doing if he knew you needed help. If he couldn't do it, he was going to find someone to do it, and he wasn't going to stop. And I think obviously with our campus, we are 30-plus years old because he didn't stop," says Altman, the KED deputy executive director.
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While we lost him to cancer last June, Gallagher's presence and dedication to helping people is on the minds of everyone at KED every day as they work to carry his mission forward, even in the middle of a pandemic.
"For the last 30 years, his legacy has been helping kids through this campus, and so we knew that no matter what happened, we had to figure it out. We had to keep going. We had to show up every day and be there for these kids because that has been the philosophy and the mission that Dick Gallagher has instilled in all of us," D'Amico said.
Added Altman: "I can only hear what he would be saying through this whole pandemic, but I can tell you that man would have been here. That man would have been on this campus trying to help us figure it out. That's his legacy. This campus. These kids. Kids that will come many, many years long after I'm here will be the legacy that he set up."
KED offers many programs to the community year-round, including at the campus in West Seneca.