HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — While many parents are taking back to school photos of their teens, a local mother is using a billboard to remember her daughter and others who’ve lost their lives to fentanyl.
Shannon Doyle lost her daughter, Makayla, to a fentanyl overdose last year and hopes these billboards spare other parents from the pain she feels.
August 21 is one of two days a year that is recognized as “Fentanyl Awareness Day.”
“She didn’t get her drivers license, she doesn’t get her first car, she won’t graduate high school, get married, have kids, go to college,” Doyle said.
This is one of the many things Shannon tells teens when she goes to speak about her daughter at local schools.
Makayla Cox was just 16 years old when she didn’t wake up one morning. She was halfway through her freshman year at Ocean Lakes High School.
“She was just so happy and wanted to make everyone else happy,” Doyle said.
Her mom said she didn’t see any changes in her daughter, but did notice Makayla was hanging out with a different crowd.
She said about a month before her death, she confronted Makayla about who she was spending time with because she knew they did drugs.
She said she suspected Makayla might’ve experimented with drugs and even wanted to take her to a treatment program.
“I wanted to try and get her help, however that looked, mental health-wise, because they’re related, mental health, addiction, substance abuse, they all are linked together,” Doyle said.
But because Makayla was over the age of 14, in Virginia, she could refuse to go and she did. She told her mom she didn’t have a problem.
Doyle said in late January of last year, the two were watching a movie together and Makayla kept falling asleep.
She said the next morning Makayla didn’t wake up and the toxicology report came back as a fentanyl overdose.
Now she tells Makayla’s story to other high school students and bought these billboards featuring Makayla and others who’ve lost their lives to the deadly drug.
“I can’t change the end result at this point but maybe i can help somebody else,” Doyle said.
She said since Makayla isn’t here to tell her story, she hopes it inspires others to rewrite theirs if they’re struggling with addiction.
“It’s just so much bigger than anyone realized,” Doyle said.
There are three billboards in the area, one is by Military Circle Mall and the other two are along highways in Portsmouth and Norfolk.
Shannon Doyle started a non-profit in Makayla’s honor to help continue to raise awareness. If you’d like to learn more about the Makayla Cherie Foundation, click here.