As the first soft rays of early morning light parted the endless grey of lingering clouds, 54 Exeter Summer students piled out of a worn yellow school bus Tuesday onto the shores of Seabrook Beach, New Hampshire. Dark waves crashed against hard-packed sand, emitting a thunderous pounding that slowly faded into the background. With the sea at his back, Chucky Rosa stood proudly in black swim trunks, a statue of determination. 

As the throng of sleepy students approached him, Mr. Rosa recounted the stories of his sons Vincent and Domenic, who respectively overdosed and died on October 29, 2003 of fentanyl patches, and on November 26, 2004 of heroin. He also sadly recalled that his nephew fatally relapsed last week after decades of sobriety.

Mr. Rosa went on to explain that since his sons’ deaths, he has honored their memories by establishing the nonprofit organization Chucky’s Fight. With a focus on teenage awareness on the dangers of drug addiction, Chucky’s Fight enables him to raise money to accomplish his goal through daily morning swims in the icy waters of New Hampshire. In an interview with FOX News, his wife and fellow educator Mary Rosa described the lasting effects of substance abuse and the importance of Chucky’s Fight.

“[It’s] still devastating,” said Mrs. Rosa. “Everyday you wake up and some days you think it was a dream, [and] you still don’t even believe that it happened. But it does happen. That’s why we need to let people know.”

After the briefing, the Exeter Summer students and Mr. Rosa linked hands and walked into the waves. They stood in solidarity for their fallen comrades as they ignored the sting of the frigid saltwater.