Colton's Journey to Liberation

Hamburg's Colton Lasker was 23-years-old when he passed away from complications relating to a 10-year battle with drug addiction, leaving behind a mother, two sisters, and score of loved ones reeling from his loss.

Just like heart disease or cancer, addiction is a chronic, often deadly disease, affecting approximately 10 million Americans each year, according to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health. Lasker's tragic story is unfortunately not unique, with drug addiction and substance abuse issues coming to forefront of national consciousness due to the recent onslaught of young people dying from the disease of addiction.  

What is unique, though, is what Lasker's mother, Becky Barnell, is doing to change that problem in honor of her son's memory. Along with daughters Stephanie and Shayna, Barnell founded the 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, Colton's Journey to Liberation, in June 2017 in an effort to provide greater education and awareness about the disease that claimed her son's life, while eradicating negative stigma and connecting individuals, families and friends struggling with open, supportive resources dedicated to recovery.

Like any physical illness, addiction requires attentive care not only from the individual, but from empathetic communities willing to support those who are suffering. By shining a light on the realities of addiction and offering help instead of condemnation, we provide greater chances of healing and survival for all those touched by the disease.

Addiction is the fight of not only the individual, but of their family members, friends, co-workers and those close to them. Painful feelings of anger, guilt, denial and shame can penetrate deeply into the lives of anyone who cares for an addict, in addition to the individual themselves.

This is but the beginning of our organization's journey to share our message of hope to those who desperately need it.

CJtoL Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Covered by WKBW.

Inspire Awareness   

Shayna, Becky & Stephanie  

UAW Ford Community Winter 2018

Hamburg Sun: June 23, 2017

Buffalo News: July 1, 2017

Change the Conversation Around Substance Abuse & Make A Difference in Your Community Today!


Colton Lasker was only 23-years old when he passed away from complications relating to his drug addiction. 

My Son Colton worked with me at the Buffalo Stamping Plant.  On June 14th, 2016 Colton came to work on 3rd shift like any other day.  I was about to leave for the night when Colton asked me to come see him.  When I arrived, he said he was having a hard time. I asked him what was wrong. He told me he had relapsed.  He went on to say “ I have thought about suicide many times but I never planned it until today”. He continued to tell me that he was scared and tired and just didn’t know how he was going to make it through another recovery (this was a 10 year fight for him).  Colton also said the only reason he didn’t follow through with his plan that day was because he was worried about how hard that would be for his sisters and me. After many years of being on a roller coaster of re-laps and healing Colton had just spent a year in recovery, working desperately to save his own life. Then in a moment one day it happened again another re-laps.
Colton was devastated and scared knowing how hard and painful recovery is, it was too much to bare.  There is nothing I can say to explain how it feels when you see your child go through this horrible disease the desperation to save themselves while re-laps after re-laps steals their ability to have hope and tears their soul from them. It is immeasurable the toll it takes on the one that has the addiction and the family that wants to help and can do nothing to save them.

Once again we made a plan and I immediately took him to the hospital so grateful that he gave himself another chance to be healed by coming to me again for help. One week later, after a week in the hospital Colton passed away. It was June 23rd 2016; his 23rd Birthday.


Hamburg Sun: April 6, 2018


The main goal of our annual event is to raise awareness, provide education, and generate financial support for local organizations that are determined to offer resources and an answer to this local, national, and worldwide epidemic. 

We hope that our local endeavor was & will be a catalyst for change in the way addiction is viewed and treated. Addiction is not a choice, it is an everyday struggle felt by millions of people. ​

Proceeds raised by CJtoL will be donated to local programs such as Kids Escaping Drugs (Renaissance House), UNYTS, and The World Through Your Eyes, Inc. (TWTYE Inc). 

Kids Escaping Drugs (Renaissance House) was instrumental in their efforts to help Colton identify positive ways to confront and combat his addiction. Furthermore, they played a huge role in assisting Colton and his family in navigating the complexities of the treatment world. UNYTS helped Colton save four lives with the donation of his organs. TWTYE, Inc supports individuals affected by addiction with the use of creative outlets and contemporary resources.

This day was not possible without the support of our community! If you would like to submit a donation or be a part of our monumental movement.

Thank you and lets make a difference together!

Hamburg Sun: October 20, 2017

Colton’s Journey to Liberation (CJtoL) is a movement created to inspire awareness and change the conversation around substance abuse.