“I had a foot in the grave”: Suicide survivor starts non-profit providing scholarships for therapy

ORLANDO, Fla. — Peter Cook is the CEO and Founder of “Refreshed Traveler,” a company that makes patented travel kits that are airline and arena compliant.

Long before the coronavirus pandemic actually gave his business a shot in the arm, Cook says he was in his darkest moments, addicted to alcohol and opioids.

READ: Central Florida child welfare service getting by with donations after main fundraiser canceled

Cook says he survived a suicide attempt thanks to his sister who found him and called 911.

“I had a foot in the grave when I had a white light experience,” Cook recalls. “I detoxed myself, got off of it, and asked the universe what my purpose was, and that’s when I started Largest Heart.”

Cook says Largest Heart was also partially inspired by his brother Andrew, who drowned in 2017. Cook says just one month before his death, Andrew convinced him to get help.

Cook would pay it forward by launching the non-profit to support others living with the trauma of addiction and suicide by giving scholarships to pay for therapy.

“Last year we sent four people to 100% paid therapy, following the death of a parent, one woman’s husband...Our first recipient was a five-year-old boy whose dad committed suicide,” Cook says.

READ: Facebook post spawns massive effort to help young adults in Central Florida aged out of foster care

Cook quickly realized funding the non-profit would be a challenge. Enter “Refreshed Traveler.”

Cook started the company in 2018, but was running out of money, until the coronavirus pandemic created demand.

Major retailers like Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond started carrying the products.

Cook’s company expanded to 12 employees, and at its peak, was selling 10,000 units per week, with 10 percent of the profits going directly to Largest Heart.

“I started off with one scholarship, and then last year it grew to four,” Cook says. “This year, I’d love to do a dozen where we can provide a dozen individuals with 100% paid therapy to overcome addiction and suicide.”

READ: Nancy Alvarez’s cancer fight seen as call to action for breast cancer prevention

Cook says he wants to create a movement of paying forward, “Because it’s not about me. We’re all in this together,” he says.

Largest Heart also gave away 10,000 masks and 1,000 of their travel kits to other local charities last Christmas.

To donate directly to Largest Heart, click here.

Joe Kepner

Joe Kepner,

I unloaded the U-Haul in Orlando in 2008, just in time to cover the Magic's run to the 2009 NBA Finals.

Comments on this article