Kind, sensitive, needed more time
Dawson was kind and sensitive, with a great sense of humor and an infectious laugh. He loved animals, especially his rescue dog, Burly. He was extremely intelligent, was an honor roll student, a member of the National Honor Society and a college graduate. Dawson was extremely athletic; he played golf and tennis in high school and was a graceful snowboarder and long boarder. He loved the beach and the mountains, was drawn to dogs, kids, and people in need.
Dawson was passionate about music, friends, travel and the Washington Redskins. He had a talent for cartoon-type pencil drawings, was good with technology and was always ready with a helping hand.
Dawson worked part time in the food industry during high school, and in college did an internship for his sports management degree with the Richmond Flying Squirrels and NASCAR at the Richmond Raceway. His dream job was to be an agent for a professional sports figure or team. He also wanted to be involved with live music and bands in some capacity.
Unfortunately, during his senior year in college Dawson was the victim of a home invasion. The beating he sustained, his mother, Laurie stated, “left him with chronic pain, opioid use, misuse, and eventual addiction.” After that his personality changed; he became introverted and paranoid and went from fun-loving and social to a loner, not wanting to be around others.
Dawson’s biggest accomplishment in life was being kind, sensitive and forgiving; his mom, said, “perhaps he was almost too kind and too fragile for this world.” His mom misses everything about him, especially how he would rub his hands together and dance a little jig in excitement. He had nicknames for everyone and a totally made-up vocabulary that was fun. It saddens her to think about what could have been; what potential was lost and what the family misses out on by not having Dawson with them.
Like many people, his mother thought at first that Dawson could just stop using drugs at will. She has educated herself about the disease of addiction and has learned to have compassion for those who suffer with it. Laurie has become a community activist, planning fundraisers for young adult recovery services and she shares Dawson’s story to help others. She also sits on the board of a local non-profit. Laurie said, “To this day, even with staggering numbers of overdoses occurring, I want to shout my motto, Not one more, Not one more!”
Dawson’s mother, Laurie Pettit, provided the information for this narrative.
February 13, 1988-March 1, 2014
Age 26-Lived with the disease of addiction 5+ years