Jordan, or “Filler” as his friends called him, was magic. He grew up in a loving family as the only boy of three younger sisters. He was the leader, protecter and organizer of adventure in his role as the head of the “Filler Four.” Jordan had the gift of so many magnetic personality traits. He was extremely bright, his wit was sharp and quick, and his beautiful renditions of Disney songs and Taylor Swift captivated a room. He loved sports (Chicago Bulls and Michigan football, specifically), skiing, cooking, and the Harry Potter series.
He laughed big and loved hard. He was a die-hard friend and more interested in giving than taking. He was theatrical, yet shy and uncomfortable. He was intense and did not always love himself. It was the features that made him so special that also caused him pain. He was an “angel not meant for this world.”
On January 12, 2014, we received the knock on the door that we feared so deeply. We lost Jordan to a heroin overdose at the age of 23. Jordan did not choose to live a life ravaged by opioids. He wanted to be “normal” and accomplish positive change in the world.
Despite Jordan’s best efforts, Substance Use Disorder is an illness that does not discriminate. It afflicts rich and poor, young and old, educated and not. It is as virulent as it is deadly. Opioids, in particular, are so destructive they now claim more victims annually than guns and traffic accidents combined.
As Jordan waged his battle against opioids, there existed little public education, few treatment options, and a great amount of stigma. Lives were lost, in part, for lack of these critical resources and the shame involved in seeking help.
In the wake of Jordan’s passing, the Filler Family founded the Jordan Michael Filler Foundation, which works diligently to help change the global landscape of Substance Use Disorder. Our life-saving initiatives include placing educational programs in our schools, funding access to care, initiating the Midwest’s first and only state of the art Adolescent Mental Health and Substance Use facility, improving HIPAA legislation to allow for enhanced notification for at-risk youth, and providing the critically-needed overdose reversal medication Naloxone to first responders and individuals in need.
We will forever fight in Jordan’s honor and memory to make a difference in the life of even one individual, and we will never give up in our mission of raising awareness, ending the stigma, and saving all of our children from Substance Use Disorder.
In Jordan’s Words
If I had the chance to influence the world in a great way it would be in a positive manner. When I die, I’d rather people remember me as a hero than a criminal. It’s hard to choose from the many ways to impact the world but I might want to do something like find a cure for cancer. Although I’ve never experienced it, I imagine that one of the greatest feelings in the world is to save someone’s life. The satisfaction of saving the many lives that are taken each year due to cancer, would in my opinion be second to none. Cancer has also affected people I know such as my friends’ parents. My friends are also hurt by cancer. So not only would a cure help the patient but many others close to him/her. So in total, more people would benefit from a cure to cancer more than almost any other possible impact.
We hear time and time again that with each passing year, Jordan’s death will become easier for our family. People say that time heals, yet our harsh reality shows that life without Jordan is not easier. Our family’s pain is real. There is a gaping hole in our hearts, widened each day by the daily realization that our family is no longer complete. We miss Jordan. We miss our family as we once knew it. We miss everything that was our normal life. Our new normal is one that is anything but normal. Normal was laughing at Jordan’s Adam Sandler impersonations, singing along with him to our favorite Disney classics, and baking for his mass of hungry friends. Normal was booking reservations for six, and setting six plates at the dinner table. Normal was hope for better tomorrows. We were six, and now we are five. Our new normal is anything but normal.
Jordan was our eldest child and only son. He was the glue that created the unique and magical bond he shared with his three sisters. Jordan cherished his sisters, and embraced his self-appointed role as their protector, and delighted in leading them in all sorts of all silly adventures. Jordan was the benevolent heart and soul that fostered his sisters’ strengths and inimitable spirits. They were four, and now they are three. This is our new normal.
As a friend, Jordan had no equal. Jordan loved each of his friends with unyielding passion and support, and they loved him similarly in return. He was their hype man, always ready to organize a pick-up game of basketball at all hours, or stand in line at The Donut Vault in the early hours to say thank you to his friends for hosting him. Jordan was there with a laugh and a vibrant, contagious humor that filled a room with energy and joy. He was the one and only “Filla”. They were seven and now they are six. This is our new normal.
Simple mathematics tell the tale; our family’s life is no longer whole without Jordan. Each day we are reminded that nothing will ever fill the void that Jordan’s absence has created, and that nothing will ever make us complete again.
In our sadness, however, we have chosen to embrace the strength our family retains, and we aim to honor our Jordan by saving lives through our foundation. It is our most heartfelt hope that Jordan would be proud of the work we are doing, and legacy that will flourish in his name and in his honor. Jordan had a warm and caring way with kids. At his best, he was coaching, or playing with friends’ kids, drawing them in like the Pied Piper. He may not have known it or understood the talents he held, but we believe that Jordan’s life’s work would have involved bettering the lives of kids. He had a gift.
We cannot think of a better way to pay tribute to Jordan than to help protect and save the lives of children, especially those suffering from the very disease that took his life, the disease of substance use. And so, while our new normal is anything but normal, we have made the choice to reflect not only on the tragedy our family has endured, but also the good that has arisen from it.
We thank you for the love, warmth and support that has helped us on our long journey in healing from the loss of Jordan, the love of our lives…and we invite you to share in our work. Together we will save all our children’s lives.
Julie Filler and the Filler Gang
"Jordan was a special soul, a gift. He did everything big….he skied big, he exercised big, he sang big, and he loved big. He was amazing to little kids, grandparents, animals, and his friends. He made people smile when they were in his presence. In his memory, we will raise awareness about the awful disease of heroin addiction and lives will be saved in Jordan's honor. He will forever be missed but anyone who knew and loved Jordan were the lucky ones."
Lisa Aronson - Deerfield, IL
"Having Jordan around was like having a whole posse in one person. He was our bodyguard, our hype man, and he was also usually the star of the show. I am going to miss him more than words can ever describe, but I know that he is up there looking down on us and making sure nobody gives us any problems. Jordan was one of my very best friends, and to fill the void that he left in my heart, I will help raise awareness and educate people of the horrible disease known as addiction, because I know that Jordan did not want any of this. I will never forget you."
Brett Horowitz - Highland Park, IL
"I was very lucky to have a best friend like Jordan. His sense of humor, loyalty and generosity were only a few of the finer traits that Jordan possessed. If you were lucky enough to be his friend, he had your back no matter what. The amazing turnout we had for the basketball tournament in his honor showed just how special he was to so many people in his life. Though he is gone, I will never forget the memories we shared and will cherish them forever. Jordan battled an addiction that most of us will never truly understand. I was proud of the efforts he made to try and beat it and will help raise awareness to help educate others about this horrific drug. The foundation will, without a doubt, save the lives of many."
Matt Levine - Highland Park, IL
"I knew Jordan well, he was a caring, loving soul. He would be proud - and very supportive of the work his family and friends are doing in his name."
Laurie Coleman - San Diego, Ca
"I didn't know Jordan well, but I do know and love Jessica and the rest of his family very much. The stories Jessica has shared about Jordan are hilarious, exciting, and prove that he was a one of a kind brother and a one of a kind friend. I never want to see people I love so much go through something like this ever again and am confident that the Filler family will make sure I never do. Jordan, you may be gone, but your memories and legacy will live on forever!"
Lindsey Harris - Cincinnati, OH
The Jordan Michael Filler Foundation is a registered 501(c)3 organization in Highland Park, IL. All donations are tax deductible.
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