Ahead of Giving Tuesday, the 'Friends' star's family exclusively tells PEOPLE that they hope to help others suffering from addiction through the late star's foundation
Matthew Perry's legacy is living on.
The Matthew Perry Foundation launched on Nov. 3, with the goal of "identifying addiction as a disease, addressing the complex of stigmas that prevents individuals from seeking and accessing care, and fiercely advocating for better and more equitable treatment."
Ahead of Giving Tuesday, Perry’s family tells PEOPLE that the foundation is one crucial way they are paying tribute to the late actor, who was open about his own struggle with addiction throughout his lifetime before he died at age 54 on Oct. 28, and they are hopeful others might do the same.
“It is important to us, as a family, to honor Matthew’s legacy,” Perry’s family said. “The potential that the Matthew Perry Foundation has to help those suffering from this disease is something we are proud to bring to the world.”
Perry's stepfather, Dateline journalist Keith Morrison, also encouraged fans to donate to the foundation on Monday evening.
"This is not the sort of thing I commonly do, this pitch. But this year is different," he wrote in a message on X, formerly known as Twitter. "And tomorrow is Giving Tuesday. Do what you can; he would have been grateful. https://matthewperryfoundation.org"
In the wake of his death, Perry's loved ones brought that goal to fruition in his honor. The foundation's website currently features a black-and-white photo of the late actor alongside an inspiring quote about his desire to help others.
"When I die, I don't want 'Friends' to be the first thing that's mentioned — I want helping others to be the first thing that's mentioned. And I'm going to live the rest of my life proving that," a quote from his November 2022 appearance on the Q With Tom Power podcast reads next to the image. "Addiction is far too powerful for anyone to defeat alone. But together, one day at a time, we can beat it down."
Throughout his lifetime, Perry was open about his own struggle with addiction.
In a 2013 PEOPLE cover story, Perry opened up about his abuse of alcohol and Vicodin, which a doctor had prescribed him after a 1997 jet ski accident. “I had a big problem with alcohol and pills and I couldn’t stop,” he said. “Eventually things got so bad that I couldn’t hide it, and then everybody knew.”
Two years later, in 2015, Perry was honored for his advocacy by the treatment center Phoenix House, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “You can’t have a drug problem for 30 years and then expect to have it be solved in 28 days.”
Ahead of the release of his memoir Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing last year, Perry further detailed his own struggles and revealed that he almost died at 49 due to his escalating drug addiction. He said he spent two weeks in a coma fighting for his life, followed by a five-month hospital stay and a year using a colostomy bag, after his colon burst from opioid overuse.
Perry was found dead at his Los Angeles-area home on Oct. 28 and was laid to rest on Nov. 3 at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles. All five of his Friends costars — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer — were in attendance for the private service.
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The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed to PEOPLE that an autopsy has been completed and results are pending a toxicology report. However, an online record has the status of the actor's cause of death currently listed as "deferred" since it's "pending additional investigation."
The late actor's family released a statement to PEOPLE following his death, saying, "We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of our beloved son and brother. Matthew brought so much joy to the world, both as an actor and a friend. You all meant so much to him and we appreciate the tremendous outpouring of love."
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please contact the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.
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