Cast Member Who Stole $24,000 for Drugs Gets a Second Chance from Disney

Dylan Kennedy Grey

Cast Member Who Stole $24,000 for Drugs Gets a Second Chance from Disney

While a young man and attending college, a Disney Cast Member used a company credit card to rack up around $24,000 in drugs; when he revealed this to Disney, the company gave him a second chance instead of a pink slip. In interviews with Business Insider and Medium, he shared his story and how Disney changed his life for good.

Cast Member in Addiction Crisis Gets Second Chance After He Stole $24,000 for Drugs

Taron Sargsyan gets second chance from Disney
Taron Sargsyan & AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images, via Business Insider

Taron Sargsyan, then 22 and studying at University of Southern California, was actively addicted to drugs. He managed to land his dream job as a Software Engineer role with the PhotoPass team for Disney, but his battle with addiction led him to rack up more than $24,000 in expenses on his company credit card to fund his drug habit.

He was encouraged to admit his problems to his manager and, certain he would be terminated from a position he loved, confessed his transgressions to his manager. To his astonishment, Disney offered to keep him on and gave him a second chance to pay back the money he owed. Sargsyan said this second chance changed his life.

“Had it not been for Disney’s impact on my life, I may not have healed from my addiction or my relationship with my family. I’m glad I didn’t miss out on a life filled with joy, love, and kindness.” Sargsyan said.

Though the second chance offered to him was a blessing from the company, Sargsyan said that he failed six times in rehab centers as he continued this journey.

“I entered treatment centers multiple times, but various factors, including fear of losing my job, undiagnosed mental health issues, cultural insensitivity, and personal safety concerns, led to failure. After six unsuccessful attempts, I lost hope of ever getting sober. I didn’t know what to do anymore.” Sargsyan said.

Then, on Disneyland’s birthday, Sargsyan received one more compassionate gesture of kindness from Disney, and this second chance stuck.

“On July 17, 2018, I was stranded in Palm Springs, California, with no gas and no money with ten days left to return to work from my second medical leave of absence. I had just left another rehab against medical advice and I feared I was about to lose the only thing left in my life: my job.

But on this fateful day, Disney threw a lifejacket out for me and their intervention saved my life. This time, the treatment plans addressed the core reasons for my past failed attempts. I couldn’t believe I was getting the best and most personalized care I could ever dream of. For once, I didn’t feel alone and invisible in the world.

Disney fully believed in my capacity to change and offered me everything I needed to succeed. I spent six months healing through various modalities of therapy. After a year into my sobriety, I quit my job and moved back in with my family to heal the damage I caused them during my active addiction. I also wanted to give my family the chance to make their amends to me and get to know their son.

I extended the same gesture of compassion and forgiveness towards my family that Disney extended towards me at the lowest point of my life.”

Taron Sargsyan source Medium
image source: Medium

Sargsyan’s second chance experience has led him to want to share more about his story with people, and he hopes to help inspire change with others the way that Disney inspired change for him.

“If we want our loved ones to heal and find their way back to their families, we need to approach addiction with more compassion and understanding. That’s exactly what Disney did for me, and it changed my life. How many people can say that Disney saved them from addiction and brought their family back together? It’s pretty mind-blowing. If it wasn’t for Disney’s profound impact on my life, I wouldn’t have the confidence to share my message and make a difference.

I want to give back to the world what was so freely given to me by Disney. I know my story has the potential to change lives, challenge the status quo, and contribute to a broader shift in societal attitudes towards addiction. I want to help others see that they can imagine a whole different life for themselves, too. Because here’s the thing, addiction is not this lifelong disease that defines us. There’s so much more to the story.”

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