In this second installment of Promotional Success Stories, a father turns a personal tragedy into a compassionate cause, using an inscribed token to inspire and support the people he serves.
Frank Hoetker never thought he would leave his successful banking career in San Francisco to mentor troubled teens in rural Washington. Then again, he never imagined he’d lose his son, Darby, to drug addiction.
For 15 agonizing years, Frank witnessed the unthinkable and endured a father’s worst nightmare—an experience that devastated him, but also changed him into the man he is now.
To cope with his grief, Frank created a new life mission: “to inspire youth to make better choices about substance abuse.” He became a Life Skills Coach and has shared his powerful testimonial more than 250 times at treatment centers, high schools, middle schools, and juvenile detention facilities.
When Frank speaks to at-risk youth, he shares what he calls Darby’s Story. The presentation incorporates relics of Darby’s battle with addiction, including handwritten notes and a clear plastic bag filled with his son’s ashes. Frank reads his son’s letters aloud, revealing an addict’s relentless pain and suffering, all while Darby’s ashes sit in plain view on a table in front of Frank. He describes how addiction ruins lives, and he emphasizes that sobriety is always a realistic and better option.
When he concludes Darby’s Story, Frank gives attendees a compass key ring imprinted with the words, “Remember Darby’s Story…Never lose your way.”
“The compass is a symbol of maintaining direction in one’s life,” Frank says, “and it reminds individuals to stay on the right course if they ever encounter a risky situation.”
Frank has seen firsthand the difference he makes in the lives of teens that are in the same position his son once was. “Many times over, youths have commented on still having the compass in their possession as a tool for recovery.”
With more than 3,000 compass key rings distributed in the last three years, Franks says the promotional product has been “an invaluable tool to keep our message of sobriety alive for the kids.”
That sounds like a success story to us. Congratulations to Frank and others who share his mission. Keep up the great work!