Dinner and movie night at the Gerold
By Angie Landsverk
A screening of “Heroes Rising: A New Hope” will take place on Thursday, June 8, at Weyauwega’s Gerold Opera House.
The screening, which includes dinner, will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Tickets for the dinner and movie are $5.
They are available online at wegaarts.com and also at the door on the night of the screening.
“Parents need to watch it and realize that it’s not only happening to someone else. It’s happening to us. Kids are dying,” said Linda Rydberg, who is working with Wega Arts on Heroes Rising outreach.
Rydberg, of Appleton, has thrown herself into volunteering and supporting various organizations since her son, Kyle, died last October.
He overdosed on methadone in her home one month before he would have turned 26.
“We thought we were going to be one of the success stories,” she said. “After he died, the grief was so intense for everyone in our family.”
Rydberg said her son was a sophomore in high school when he began using drugs.
In March of 2011, he told her he was addicted to heroin and was scared.
They moved him back home several days later, and he remained there for about nine months.
Kyle seemed to be doing better but later turned to alcohol.
Last year, he again moved back home and was receiving methadone treatments for his heroin addiction.
A prior acquaintance asked him to buy methadone from her last October because she needed money for crystal meth.
Rydberg said he eventually gave in, bought it from her and overdosed on it.
Charges have been filed in his death in Outagamie County.
“I had to write my son’s obituary,” she said. “I should not have had to write his obituary and plan his funeral.”
Rydberg learned about the efforts of Wega Arts through her involvement in other substance abuse organizations in the Fox Cities.
Wega Arts and Helios Recovery produced the film in 2016.
The movie’s theme centers around a group of resilient teenagers who draw on their inner superheroes to fight the heroin/opioid epidemic.
It may be used as a tool to bring children and adults together to have a dialogue about substance abuse.
The film was made in Weyauwega by teens who worked with professional filmmakers.
A preview screening of the film took place in late January.
“The message of the movie is so strong. It just hits home,” said Rydberg, who has four children and two grandchildren.
“Kyle has a 5-year-old son who now will be growing up without his dad,” she said.
Rydberg said there were people in their family who did not know Kyle had a heroin problem until he died.
She is passionate about educating students – particularly middle school students – about the coping skills they need so they do not use drugs.
Rydberg recently spoke to middle school students in Appleton and was in the Weyauwega-Fremont School District on May 26 when the movie was shown to its high school students.
“I am an executive assistant by trade, so that is how I can help. This is my therapy,” she said.
Rydberg is working with Wega Arts to get the movie screened at every middle school in the state and to also have someone at the schools to talk about the topic.
“It’ll probably take two years to get into all the schools in the state,” she said. “Then we want to take it to the other states.”
She will share some of Kyle’s story when the movie is screened in Weyauwega next week.
“It’s important for kids and parents to know that it’s such an epidemic here and all over the place,” Rydberg said.
She wants to build awareness, let people know there are resources and give children the coping skills they need to make good decisions.
“It’s still difficult,” Rydberg said of her son’s death. “I don’t think you ever get over it. He had a good job and was spending time with his family and with his son.”