By Claire Harlin
For Kiyan Yazdani-Zafar, December is a sentimental time. The month marks five years since the death of her son, Cyrus Moinzadeh, a Torrey Pines High School graduate who died from an OxyContin overdose at the age of 23. It’s also the fifth year she’s been sending kids to rehab and supporting at-risk youth through the CyMo Foundation, which she founded in her son’s memory.
On Nov. 26, Yazdani-Zafar kicked off the CyMo Foundation’s annual Holiday Home Boutique Fundraiser, which runs through Dec. 1. Held at Yazdani-Zafar’s Santaluz home, the gift bazaar features hundreds of donated items for sale and is the foundation’s biggest fundraiser of the year. In conjunction with the event, CyMo is holding a toy and blanket drive, and Yazdani-Zafar (along with mothers of other local kids who have died of similar overdoses) will be performing outreach and collecting donated items at three locations: on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the La Jolla Open Aire Market, located at the corner of Girard Avenue and Genter Street; on Tuesdays from 2:30 to 7 p.m. at the Mira Mesa Farmer’s Market, located at 10510 Reagan Road; and on Thursdays from 3:30 to 7 p.m. at the Pacific Highlands Farmer’s Market at Canyon Crest Academy, located at 5951 Village Center Loop.
CyMo, named after Moinzadeh himself, has put nine young adults through rehab since its inception, when Yazdani-Zafar gave up her career in jewelry sales to dedicate all of her time to giving back.
“I wanted to have other parents not be where I am because it’s not a good place to be,” said Yazdani-Zafar. “I wanted to help myself and my pain also. It was therapy for me, a way of giving back and remembering Cyrus in a good way.”
A major function of CyMo is supporting families living in second chance homes and shelters, many of whom are kids who lost everything because either one or both of their parents succumbed to drugs and ended up in prison or rehab. The organization started out with about 60 kids, and now supports more than 400 — all of whom will convene on Dec. 22 to receive Christmas gifts and other necessities collected during the drive. Most of the kids live in East County and Oceanside, said Yazdani-Zafar, and the foundation gives them items such as blankets, heaters, toys and shoes.
“Many of them, they end up in these shelters so they will have a roof over their head but they have nothing,” said Yazdani-Zafar. “We try to give them things that they can take with them when they move. This is a new start for them.”
Yazdani-Zafar said CyMo also steps in when families get a new apartment and have no furniture. She said recently a mother expressed that she had finally gotten back on her feet with a new apartment but had nothing, so Yazdani-Zafar called around to everyone she knows looking for unwanted housewares and furniture.
“I went over there with a truckload and we got her all set up, silverware, furniture and everything,” Yazdani-Zafar said.
Around the time that Yazdani-Zafar lost her son, nearly 60 moms of area kids ended up in the same boat. Torrey Pines High even lost eight students to OxyContin overdoses or driving accidents in one year. Many of these kids were from local communities, such as Carmel Valley or Rancho Santa Fe.
The CyMo Foundation first started getting the word out about its cause through distributing 5,000 bracelets around the area, and many kids would wear them in memory of those who died.
“It was like a chain gang,” said Yazdani-Zafar, adding that some of the kids CyMo helped through rehab ended up contacting her for help after seeing someone with a CyMo bracelet. “Something happens to one of them and another kid hears about it — by them talking about the organization and wearing the bracelets, they get introduced to us.”
To preview items that are for sale at the bazaar, which will take place at 14618 Rio Rancho, 92127 through Dec. 1, visit www.CyMoFoundation.org. Those interested in volunteering or making donations can also reach Yazdani-Zafar through the “contact” page of the site.