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My Dearest Xavier, 2024

“My Dearest Xavier,
In grief, countless emotions and feelings are coursing through the body at once. Some hurt more than others but I find the most difficult to cope with is regret. Regret plays tricks on one's mind, and wreaks havoc on the nervous system. When I look back on our lives together I have so many regrets for the mistakes I made, the things I said that I did not mean, but mostly for the things that were left undone and unsaid. 
One of my biggest regrets is that I did not know more about fentanyl. I had heard about it at the high school I taught at, but it was so new and there was so much misinformation that I thought people only died from coming in contact with it. Never in my wildest dreams would I think people would make it look like prescription drugs or even candy. I regret my naivete in thinking it would never make its way into our community, let alone into your unknowing hands. I wish I had known about this damn poison, and that something called Narcan could reverse its effects. This is a regret I will have to carry with me forever.
I want you to know that I do not regret a single moment we shared and continue to share. Being your mom is an honor and a privilege that was bestowed upon me, how humbling. If given the choice to be your mom again, even knowing that I would lose you at a young age I would say yes, a thousand times over. 
Grief is akin to a shadow accompanying me everywhere I go. Fighting it is futile, it is simply a part of who I am now. Knowing this I can make two choices every morning when I wake up. One is to live in anger and regret allowing the shadow to consume me. The second is to focus on the side where the light is, that is where you are. Your kind, gentle, loving soul pulls me forward towards my purpose through the pain. It also pushes me to live with love in my heart. 
All of my love,  forever,  and ever,
Mom”
- Christine DeVivo-Speer,  mama

“How do you write a tribute to your dead 17-year-old son? The world has moved on so cruelly and quickly since that tragic day where you got stuck in time and memory. You came into this planet as such a gift of quiet deep thinking, it always seemed like you had the capability to frequency hop in the universe. It is hard to pick specific memories or points in time that can encapsulate how much you mean to all of us, this will barely scratch the surface. So, I choose to just say thank you for giving me the privilege of being your father. From the beginning your goofy ass taught me some life lessons starting with empathy and gentleness. 
Thank you for the late-night conversations in bed, to musical notes pouring out of you with such ease, always bringing me comfort and slowing things down. Thank you for your fierce love of music, family, community, basketball, video games, pizza and steak that are so deep in my memory that it always feels like you are with me, when I am with them. 
Thank you for the glimpse you gave us in the last three months of your life, where you suddenly grew up so fast physically and mentally. It was almost like you knew it was all ending and had to wrap up some loose ends to give us comfort after your departure. Even as I read back through this, it is not enough, like an empty attempt to describe you to the world. So, all I can do with my time here is make sure yours is not forgotten. 
I love and miss you Xavier, thank you for being mine.”
Xerfelly 5.15.03 – 3.12.21

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- George Gerchow,  father
“Goofy, intelligent, hilarious, charismatic, wise, menace, deep loving, shiny, full of life, authentic friend, hard on himself, ridiculous, kind, hungry, heavy footed, video gamer, basketball lover, community builder, drummer, pianist, ukulelist, xylophonist, bassists, anything else he was interested in ist, trampoline pro, driver, is only a start to who my brother continues to be.
A piece of me died when Xavier’s soul left his body. 
Xavier’s death certificate reads, “poisoned by fentanyl.” We are furious. Furious that Xavier’s life was ripped from underneath him, stolen by fentanyl. 
I will not meet my nieces and nephews, nor will my children meet their only uncle with my blood. I would give my life to hear the hum of his drums travel up the stairs. Hear one more joke. See one more smile. Give him one more rejected kiss. Anything just to feel him.
We share Xavier’s story in hopes that no sister, mother, father, friend, grandparent, loved one feels the pain my family carries. I was unaware. Please educate yourself and your loved ones before it’s too late.”

- Madison Gerchow,  sister,  age 25

“Since Xavier passed away I’ve been looking for my big brother everywhere. I find him in the sunrises before my early morning hockey games and all the heart shaped rocks that Christine and I find on walks. I should be able to find him in his room, or out on the basketball court, but I haven't been able to for 3 years now, because of fentanyl. The foundation that he's inspired has become so important with the rising number of fentanyl poisonings and overdoses. I shouldn't have to carry narcan in my backpack everyday at school. I fear for the lives of my peers, friends and at times even for my own. Awareness is going to save lives, and the XFoundation’s mission is going to benefit so many highschoolers and their families. Xavier inspires me everyday to live life to the fullest, enjoy the little things and not take a single moment for granted. I will always miss my big brother, but he'll always be there for me to look up to and gain courage from. No other little sister out there should have to look for her big brother in the sunrises, and I believe the XFoundation is going to help prevent that for so many others, one step at a time.”
- Alyss Speer,  stepsister,  age 15 
“This is the most difficult thing I have ever had to write, it pains me to my very core to know that I haven’t seen you in three years. In my mind’s eye I see the 9 yr old boy I first met that was obsessed with pizza, chocolate milk and Slenderman. I relive the Disney song sing-along that occurred every morning on the drive to school. I replay our time together as you grew into an amazing young man, playing basketball out in blizzards, joking around and laughing until we cried and of course discussing life and relationships. You should know that our time together not only changed my life, it also made me a better father & man… and you truly became a part of my heart & soul. I never imagined the kind of impact that you would have on so many lives. At every turn you surprised me with your heart, humor and penchant for life. Love you X.” 
- Dan Speer,  stepfather

“It is so surreal that another year has gone by without Xavier in it.  I think back to the last time I saw him and he was telling me about a Pete Davidson movie with a character named Zeke or the last phone conversation that I had with him on the 11th, when he put the wrong dish soap in the dishwasher and I wanted to make sure that he didn’t need me to stop by and help clean the kitchen before his dad came home from the mountains.  
As a mother of 2 teenage boys, I worry constantly about reckless adolescent decisions, challenges to their mental health and now being unknowingly poisoned.  Both of them carry Narcan in their cars and backpacks.  XFoundation is a great resource for raising awareness on the dangers of fentanyl and providing a place for the community to come together in support of each other.  Through Xavier’s tragedy, their mission to ensure that no family feels the effects of fentanyl poisoning will save many lives.”
- Laura Penney,  stepmother

Life is not the same without my grandson Xavier. Ihope to see him some day in Heaven.
Tamy Chandler,  grandmother

“Xavier was a person that everyone called best friend, his contagious laugh, humor, his cooking skills, love for music and sports, made him a person that everyone could relate to, but what made him special was how sincere and caring he was. Xavier’s authentic personality came from being raised by a great, loving family and once he got into a friend group that embraced him, people started to see how awesome he always was. He is nothing you would expect when you hear of someone that was poisoned from fentanyl, but that has become more and more common as fentanyl is getting into more homes of smart, passionate, and loving kids every day. 

That is why the XFoundation is so important in attacking the fentanyl crisis. It is owned and supported by people who have experienced losing a family member or friend to fentanyl and understand that the stigma surrounding fentanyl “overdoses” is just not accurate. We want to educate people that fentanyl is not like any other drug, rather it is a poison, and a lethal dose can be as small as 5 grains of salt. Over 5,500 pounds of fentanyl has been illegally shipped into the U.S. and seized. Which means there is much more roaming our communities and killing innocent people that we have failed to prevent. Our vision is to honor Xavier and the thousands of people who die every year, through education and proper ways to hinder this crisis across America.” 
– David Tapia,  friend,  age 21
“Xavier was my best friend since I was around 5 years old. He was the kindest, funniest, most entertaining person I have ever met. He always saw the best in everyone. I am honored to have had the pleasure of being his friend and being accepted into his family. When Xavier was taken from us, it crushed me in ways I could not imagine. He did not deserve to pass in such a manner and I pray that no other family goes through such a tragedy. Because of my history with Xavier, there was only one way that I could move forward after his passing. Xavier inspired me to live for the both of us now that he is gone. I know that he would want me to become the person that he saw me as and experience life in the best way possible.”
- Draygan Colonese,  friend

“Xavier and I connected in a unique way within our friendship due to music. We both had a passion for playing instruments and I feel that's where we really had some of our best moments. Xavier’s taste for music was amazing and his ability to play any beat on the drums just by listening was always able to put me in awe. Xavier always inspired me to be myself and overall was able to bring so much joy to the people around him. The XFoundation’s values and mission is always on my mind and the importance of spreading awareness on fentanyl poisoning is crucial to establishing a safer future for our societies and especially the youth. In 2023 alone, Colorado seized a total amount of 2.1 million pills that contained fentanyl. That is enough fentanyl to poison and kill millions of people. Overall, Xavier made such a big impact on my life and I'm excited to see the impact the XFoundation will make on others because that's what X would have wanted.”
- Matthew Green,  friend

“Xavier Gerchow, one of the most out of pocket funny human beings I met and got to consider a close friend has brought me an abundance of laughter, vision, and more. X was my close gaming buddy who never let me down in the virtual world and real life. We listened to music because at that time our hobbies became an art that not many could understand or practice. He was always open ears and very picky when it came to who I surrounded myself with because he was always looking out for me. I cannot thank him enough for providing a second home where we all hung out and made some of the most memorable memories as young stupid teenagers who just wanted to escape from our life sometimes. We played endless amounts of basketball at a church with our friends and for months during covid it was the only thing we got to hold onto for life outside of a screen. But the day we lost Xavier I had lost someone who was supposed to stay in the chapters of my life till the end. I dedicated my last songs to him because we dreamed of creating music together and having a studio. And it is hard to explain how preventable it was for us as friends to truly do something but didn't. My sister who is in the medical field warned me about fentanyl poisoning due to the fact she had seen kids our age passing away and before X's final moments I mentioned to him to please be careful because I knew how dangerous it truly is. Xavier's incident opened my eyes to how serious this fentanyl crisis truly is and how dangerous it could be for our future generation. The XFoundation is one foundation that may change the future lives of  people who never get to call their family and friends again. The XFoundation has the ability to be the safe haven for those who need help and it is trusted in the hands of the ones we know personally and know are willing to never give up until this issue is suppressed to the maximum. Since 2016 the Fentanyl crisis has increased not by 80%, 90%, or even 100% but a sad and ridiculous percentage of 1,652% and what has the world done up until now? What are we waiting for but with the help of the community and XFoundation we have a chance to make change. So we do not lose such genuine and caring people like Xavier who gives up hope in life. Long Live Xavier Gerchow.”
Listen to Skyler’s album “Losses into Lessons” on Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, Amazon Music 💜 
- Skyler Kim,  friend
One of my favorite memories of X is going to the Sand Dunes. We had so much fun.
sandboarding, listening to music, laughing, and spending time together. It was great to just spend time with X and the Goofies making memories. X always had a great joke to tell to make you laugh. X was a great friend. He was adventurous, caring, dependable, confident, and a friend you could always count on. Fentanyl poisoning awareness will save lives. Being committed to the XFoundation and the mission is important because the foundation is bringing awareness to the public and community about this crisis. Many members of this community want to turn a blind eye and believe that the crisis is not happening in their community. The foundation is here to let them hear the truth. We can also let them know how they can help with the problem. This cause will forever be important just as X will forever be an important part of our lives.

- Ayden Lupo,  friend,  age 20
When I think about Xavier, I’m instantly reminded of his big heart and genuine nature towards all the people in his life. He went the extra lengths to get to know EVERY SINGLE one of his friends on a deep and personal level. This is something anyone who met him can attest to. Being in high school at the time, many of us felt pressured to “fit in” and be “cool.” Though Xavier never cared much for social status nor listened to the high school hallway gossip and rumors being spread around about people. He made his judgements about people based on where their hearts and souls were at. It’s something I always admired about him and today, it has become a core value of mine. I like to say it’s the best thing X ever taught me.
The importance of the XFoundation’s message cannot be stressed enough considering fentanyl poisoning is the leading cause of death for people aged 18-45 killing upwards of 200 people a day in the United States. Fentanyl is something that has impacted me and my friend’s life personally and needs to be talked about more to educate our community so no one else has to deal with lasting effects of fentanyl poisoning.
- Colin Chatman,  friend

X was the funniest, most heart warming, and kind hearted person I’ve known. He brought an abundance of light into this world. I have never seen anyone strive to be strictly themselves more than X. He was funny and he knew it. He would always find the perfect time to say the perfect punch line, make a goofy face, or do something so funny that only X could ever think of it. He was so talented in so many different ways that I would be amazed at how fast he would pick new hobbies up, and how with his steadfast work ethic he would get good at whatever he loved so fast. Whether it was a new video game or a new instrument he would figure whatever it was in front of him out in such an impressive amount of time. He really was such an amazing person.
- Dylan Truesdell,  friend
X was a uniquely captivating individual with the ability to bring joy through his authentic self. My first encounter with him was a memorable one because he hit me in the head with a basketball attempting a full court shot. I learned he could indeed speak after his apology and he never stopped talking after that. He was kind, genuine, and a real friend, yet tragically at just 17, on March 12, 2021, his quietness was louder than ever after passing from fentanyl poisoning. This loss opened my eyes to fentanyl’s dangers and the stigma surrounding it. Inspired by George’s TEDx talk, I spoke out about fentanyl’s risks and joined the XFoundation to raise awareness in the Boulder community. Many of my peers at CU Boulder engage in recreational drug use, so I now carry narcan and testing strips to prevent further tragedies. It is important for the XFoundation to continue its mission raising awareness and educating on fentanyl poisoning while providing healthy and creative outlets for youth in the community, because the only way to stop what happened to X from ever happening again is by TALKING ABOUT IT.
- Aidan Truesdell,  friend
Xavier was anything but the status quo. He lived his life, his truth, and never changed to edify those around him. I think this quality is not only what made us inseparable for the latter half of high school, but it's also the reason that made him so magnetic and memorable as a person. Xavier and his family became my second home, a sanctuary for a misunderstood kid trying to find his way. That bond, with a family that did not have to support me in the ways that they did, is why I am so passionate about this foundation. It is my hope that Xavier continues to touch people through this foundation to educate and provide alternate avenues of success for equally bright kids. The goal of the XFoundation is multifaceted. We want to educate both the parents and their children on the severity of the fentanyl poisoning epidemic and provide preventative resources to those who need it. Alternatively, the foundation aims to support kids in their passions; whether it be through music, the arts, or traditional sports, we want to provide safe spaces where children’s passions can flourish. Currently fentanyl is the leading cause of death for adults age 18-45. In the eyes of our foundation this statistic is unacceptable. It is the XFoundation’s goal to create a safer environment for the future of our world. 
- Matt Weis,  friend
The fentanyl crisis is deeply affecting communities across the nation, putting unprecedented pressure on healthcare systems. This powerful opioid, 100x more potent than morphine, has led to a sharp increase in loss of American lives. In Colorado alone, the surge in fentanyl-related fatalities has emphasized the urgency of addressing this issue. One clear way to impact this crisis and reduce the risks associated with drug use is to promote open discussions aimed at prevention. By providing accurate information and fostering a supportive dialogue, we aspire to empower individuals and safeguard our communities from the devastating effects of fentanyl.
- Arin Seidlitz,  XFoundation,  CIO
I never got to know Xavier. I was friends with Madison (his sister) in college and met the whole family once when they came to have dinner at the brewery where I bartended. Little did I know the only words I would ever say to Xavier were “What would you like to eat”. It's weird not knowing this would be my only opportunity to speak to “X.” I wish I could have gotten to know this beautiful character. I’ve grown close with Xavier’s family and have learned about and felt Xavier’s warmth that he brought into this world. I have seen the community this kid created and am astounded by what impact a 17-year-old can have. I now only know stories and pictures that his friends and family have shared with me. A loss like this ripples like water and it made a big enough splash to affect me, someone who only ever met Xavier once. 
Xavier seemed to make a home for the kids who didn’t have one and while memories fade and people forget, no one will forget the way Xavier made them feel.
I am scared for my fellow friends and younger brother, they do not have the grace I had when experimenting as a young adult. They cannot go to a music show and have harmless fun as they or one of their friends may be poisoned. I am scared for all the kids in college who decide to take an Adderall pill because the fear of letting down everyone around them is greater than what happens if this pill is fake. Anything they take could be laced with fentanyl. 

My brother turns 17 this month. The same age as Xavier when he passed. Think about your loved ones. Tell them about fentanyl, get them test strips, and make sure they and you are armed with Narcan. No one deserves to lose someone close to them because they didn’t know the harsh reality of the fentanyl epidemic. I can’t imagine the pain this family has been through and never want any family to have to endure the loss they have. XFoundation is built by people who know the pain of fentanyl poisoning too well. It was built out of courage and hope. Only a family like this could show so much love and take action when they were in a dark place to make a difference in the world. 
- Terry Trudgian,  XFoundation,  CPO

The XFoundation’s mission to educate parents, teachers, young adults, and others about the dangers of fentanyl and its prevalence in society, is absolutely crucial to the safety of our communities. Today’s drug culture and supply chain is unrecognizable from what it was even just 5-10 years ago; the classic idea of a “Gateway drug” leading to continuous progression to harder drugs until an overdose occurs is absolutely obsolete. When taking just a single dose (pill, line, hit, etc) can kill, it’s critical that the knowledge of risks and dangers, and the tools to help mitigate them (testing strips, Narcan, a sober friend, etc) are readily available to anyone without risk of humiliation or shame for wanting to be prepared. The XFoundation is here to break the stigma around fentanyl poisoning and be a resource to help facilitate the difficult conversations about fentanyl with those around you. Those conversations and tools will not only save lives but also spare many from the overwhelming grief that the family members and friends of over 200,000 victims have already had to endure in the U.S. alone.
- Aaron Vestal,  XFoundation member, El Paso County Ambassador

Help us save lives. Long live Xavier