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Sister’s legacy could be saving other people’s lives

Brad Mersereau set what seemed like a steep goal last summer: to document 1,000 years of sobriety among visitors to a Web site honoring a sister who died after a long struggle with alcohol abuse.

He’s blown past that benchmark. By last week, 115 people had signed up anonymously, representing more than 1,300 sober years.

“I’m a sole survivor in an alcoholic family system,” Mersereau says, sliding a high school senior portrait of his sister across the dining room table in his Cedar Hills ranch. Freckle-faced and ginger-haired with an open smile, Laura peers across time from a day just months before she tried her first hit of LSD.

The experiment had terrible consequences: She followed the example of her father, Bill, who found solace in alcohol. Eventually, he sobered up and stayed that way until he died an old man. But Laura’s battle ended differently. She drank and kept drinking until six months before her death in 1999. She was 46 when she died of a perforated gastric ulcer, a complication caused by decades of drug and alcohol abuse.

The family saga consumes her older brother, who holds out hope that Laura’s woeful tale might help someone else in similar straits.

So Mersereau, a music composer with credits for songs on television’s “Ugly Betty” and Chris Rock’s recent movie, “I Think I Love My Wife,” hired a Web developer to create an online tribute to getting clean and staying that way.

The Web site, www.bradmersereau.com, is filled with tools, resources for those looking for help, a calendar to celebrate hard-won sobriety and a pledge for youths who agree to avoid drugs, alcohol and cigarettes.

“I want somebody who can’t call their sponsor and it’s the middle of the night to come to the site and be affirmed,” says Mersereau, 56.

A woman in Florida had just such an experience last June, shortly after the site launched. Her one-year sobriety anniversary was two days away when she stumbled on the site after searching for the keywords “sobriety after 1 year.”

She added her anniversary to the list, becoming number 10. Then she e-mailed Mersereau in gratitude.

“My younger brother Frank is the person who I feel saved my life from alcoholism,” she wrote. “I realized how easily your story could have been his.”

Her name was Laura, too.

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