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.

In conjunction with St. James United Church of Christ, our organization has created three unique "Refuge" support groups in order to help individuals work through these feelings in  a safe place with honest discourse, as well as exposing them individuals to external services that promote positive messages and individualized assistance like Addict2Addict, Evergreen Health and Narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous.

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

The inaugural event was held in the Village of Hamburg on June 23, 2017.

The 1st annual Colton's Cause Benefit  was created due to the story of Colton Lasker, a story affected the hearts and lives of people close to our Western New York community.

The main goal of the event was 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 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, please visit

You can also visit our website for more helpful information on links to local providers and information for individuals and families seeking assistance in this area.

Thank you and lets make a difference together! 


Our program centered in our hometown of Hamburg, NY raises awareness in our community, but is to inspire all of WNY.

Our founders

Hamburg Sun: October 20, 2017

Colton's Journey To Liberation

Inspiring Awareness & Changing the Conversation Around Substance Abuse 

Our mission is to advocate, promote and facilitate community forums with peer-to-peer support that will encourage positive outcomes by eliminating the barriers to recovery from substance abuse and addiction.

mission & vision

We will devote the time and energy necessary to educate, advocate and change the perception around substance abuse.

Becky, Stephanie & Shayna

Hamburg Sun: June 23, 2017

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

CJtoL Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Covered by WKBW.


Make the difference in the lives of individuals in our community. 

Buffalo News: July 1, 2017