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Hope on Mother's Day

Blanche Gallimore and her son Derrick Harrison celebrate Mother’s Day free from drugs

By DARRELL SMITH - dsmith@newsexaminer.com

Being free of a drugs and a man of God is the best Mother’s Day gift her son Derrick Harrison could give her, Blanche Gallimore said. 

They have both fought drug addiction and are now helping others overcome addiction. Now, Harrison leads Betterdayz Thru Jesus Christ with the help of his mother.

Out of prison since 2010, he has a bachelor’s degree in addiction counseling and teaches classes for Fayette County Community Corrections. He works with people held in the Fayette County Jail.

The pair’s story of addiction began with Gallimore at age 13. The path seemed natural: Her father had been an alcoholic and most of her nine older brothers and sisters had done drugs.

Illnesses by her father, mother and a niece disrupted her life. She dabbled in marijuana. At 15, the heavier drugs came, she said. Her niece died and it became too much to handle.

She was 17 when she gave birth to Derrick.

At 20, when her mother died, she got involved in cocaine. She felt ready to give up on everything.

Gallimore and her husband both worked at Visteon as functioning addicts.

By 27, her husband decided he wanted to go back to church. Gallimore admits it did not mean much to her. But one day God touched her and He instantly set her free of drugs and alcohol, she said.

“I told the Lord ‘I don’t know anything about you other than your son died on that cross for me but if you would take the desire for the drugs, the alcohol and cigarettes –I smoked two packs of cigarettes a day – away, I will serve you to the day I die,’” she said. “When I got up from the altar I felt like a whole new person. That was probably the first time I ever experienced what love really was.”

It has been 22 years since that pledge. She has stayed true to her promise.

For Harrison, drugs came at him from both sides of his teenaged parents: They came from large families with substance abuse.

“The first 10 years of my life, that’s what I was exposed to and incarceration as well because my father was incarcerated,” he said. “He came out later and never went back.”

His mother and stepfather made their decision for Christ.

“But, I also had examples on both sides of parents who took two different paths but gave me the example I didn’t have to go prison at 17 like I did,” he said.

“I call my teenage years, ‘The seven years of tribulation,’” Harrison said. “I did the complete opposite of what my parents were doing.”

When he had his wisdom teeth pulled at 15, he liked the feeling a prescription painkiller gave him.

That led to getting into medicine cabinets at friends’ parents and grandparents and using those drugs, he said. He ad friends also smoked weed and it all led to committing burglaries and stealing. At 17, he found himself locked up and in court as an adult.

With a few months out between sentences, he spent from age 17 to 24 in prison, being released in 2010.

“I think a lot of forgiveness between my mom and I came during the prison years,” he said. “I had a lot of time to think. Her unconditional love became evident and the unconditional love of God became evident. It was only Christians that visited me.”

His mother said, “It was a scary time. I would see a scared young man and I hated going to see him. At first, he would say what he thought I wanted to hear about God. But I was thankful he was in the prison because I could have been like one of the mothers out here, visiting him at the cemetery. I believe that’s what saved his life.”

Harrison said his life changed for good on Dec. 29, 2011, when he finally surrendered his life to Christ, when he really should have been just another overdose death statistic.

“The lives my mom and I have lived, I feel like have prepared us for the time we’re living now as far as the ministry with Betterdayz,” Harrison said. “Like the story of Joseph, what the devil meant for evil, God had another plan. It saved this whole family.

“Every person we bring to Betterdayz Thru Jesus Christ has the same testimony that we have, that when they surrendered all, surrendered their life to Jesus Christ, He healed them, delivered them and set them free.”

Mother’s Days are more special, he said. The best gift he gave his mom is a grandson who will not have to experience what his father and grandmother experienced. And she is an awesome grandmom, he says.

“If you go through things in life, I believe God wants you to use it so you can help pull other people to where they need to be,” Gallimore said. “It gives them hope.”