October 23, 2009 | Brett Rothberger
Dariush Behrashi (9) was enjoying the company of his friends at a family event when he noticed something strange going on outside. Everyone was crying.
His enjoyment ceased, and he quickly became anxious to discover what the problem was. Dariush searched for someone to fill him in on the news, but no one could hold back their tears to tell him.
On Dec. 16, 2007, Behrashi was told that his brother Cyrus, who had been in and out of rehab for a year with drug problems, was killed by an overdose of OxyContin. This moment instantly changed the course of Dariush’s life.
“I was shocked,” Dariush said “I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to know where he was. I felt really scared because I didn’t want to believe it was real.”
Between teaching him new tricks on the skateboard and playing catch with a football, Cyrus was always a positive influence for his baby brother.
“When Dariush was born, Cyrus brought me a card saying, ‘I want to be his brother, his father, and his all. I promise you I will take care of him until the day I die’,” Dariush’s mother, Kiyan Yazdani, said.
Because his brother had such a profound influence on him, it was clear that Dariush would have a rough time coming to terms with the death of his brother.
“I was really angry,” Dariush said. “I kind of had a depression. I would stay home all day, and missed out on two and a half months of school. It was just a really bad time in my life.”
After seeing her son in such pain, and dealing with pain of her own, Yazdani created the CyMo Foundation in honor of her son. This foundation would give Dariush a place to channel his pain.
The CyMo Foundation’s mission is to help people like Cyrus who struggle with addiction get through rehab and help other families that have been affected by OxyContin.
“I had to do something with my pain,” Yazdani said. “Since my son died, four other mothers who have lost their children to drugs have joined the foundation. It’s always really hard when it’s your child, so we try to help other people with their children, and it makes me feel good.”
The foundation is currently paying for two kids to go through rehab after raising money in charity events such as garage sales.
“When Cyrus was alive, he started this drug and died within a year,” Yazdani said. “We want to help kids like Cyrus. We go out and we talk about Cyrus, and we try to help kids just like him, but [the foundation] is not just for drug addicts; we try to help their families. We try to help their children with clothes and school and just anything that can help them.”
Yazdani and Dariush said that their message gets out through a church group that talks to schools.
“I tell [students] that it can happen to anybody,” Yazdani said. “Cyrus was a good kid. He didn’t even drink or smoke cigarettes and was a straight-A student. He was in rehab for a year, and between the times he was on the street and in rehab, [the OxyContin] killed him within that year. It could happen to anyone because once you take the drug [one time], you’re gone. It’s more addicting than anything else.”
Being on the Advisory Board, Dariush plays an important role in the foundation. He has worked during charity events at hospitals, where he helped paint rooms and has also participated in toy drives, where he played with other children affected by OxyContin and gave them toys.
The work that Dariush has done with the foundation has not only touched the lives of others, but has helped him cope with the loss of his own brother.
“It feels good to help other people who are going through what my brother went through or families who have been harmed through that same process,” Dariush said. “When you re-do a room for a whole bunch of kids or buy toys for them when they don’t have the money to buy them, it feels good to see them smile and play once you give them all that stuff.”
Yazdani says the foundation has had a very positive effect on her son.
“It keeps his brother’s memory alive for him,” she said. “It’s not like he was just here and now he’s gone forever. There will always be apart of him with [Daruish].”
The foundation has also helped Yazdani cope with the loss.
“Every now and then I see Cyrus’s friends,” she said. “They all talk about him. They tell stories about him. We try to learn from his mistakes. I feel like I’m doing something with my pain, and next time I see my son I’m only going to think of all the good things I did from his life. So that keeps me going more and more so I have more stories to tell Cyrus when I see him eventually.”
Since being involved in the foundation, Dariush has found himself educating his friends about drugs in order to prevent the same thing that happened to Cyrus.
“I got four of my friends to stop doing drugs,” Dariush said. “I told them that my brother died from it and if you start doing pot it can lead to stuff like pills and heroine. I try to help people my age, people I know and care about.”
Ultimately, the tragic death of his brother has helped shape the person Dariush is today.
“Him dying just showed me the influence that drugs can have,” he said. “I kind of learned to take [on] more of a positive attitude. I try to keep my grades up and work on other things so I stay away from drugs. So it’s made me a better person.”