OPI­OID VIC­TIMS RE­MEM­BERED AT VIGIL

Speak­ers urge com­mu­nity mem­bers to help fight drug epi­demic

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Bill Ret­tew bret­[email protected]­tu­ry­media.com @wc­dai­ly­lo­cal on Twit­ter

Dur­ing a memo­rial for those lost to opi­oid ad­dic­tion, Mayor Dianne Her­rin led a can­dle­light vigil and walk, Thurs­day evening, at the steps of the His­toric Ch­ester County Court­house.

Her­rin and more than 40 can­dle­hold­ers wanted to re­mem­ber those lost, while work­ing to save lives, as part of the Mayor’s Opi­oid Ac­tion Task Force event.

“We are here to re­mem­ber that we are not here to judge,” Her­rin said. “We are here to des­tig­ma­tize the strug­gle of ad­dic­tion and come to­gether as a com­mu­nity to help lift each other.”

Her­rin re­minded those at­tend­ing the vigil that opi­oid ad­dic­tion is an epi­demic and has been de­clared a statewide dis­as­ter emer­gency by Gov. Tom Wolf.

Her­rin noted that the epi­demic im­pacts peo­ple of all ages, sexes, the rich and poor, and all eth­nic­i­ties. Thirty vic­tims in the Greater West Ch­ester Area dur­ing 2017 ranged in age from 18 to over 65.

“Ad­dic­tion is a dis­ease and it changes their brains, their per­son­al­i­ties and their pri­or­i­ties as long as they are in the throes of the dis­ease,” she said.

The task force ad­dresses des­tig­ma­tiz­ing opi­oid ad­dic­tion, helps to pre­vent ad­dic­tion and con­nects peo­ple to treat­ment op­tions.

Like many who at­tended, Rich Mol­lica lost some­one close to opi­oid ad­dic­tion.

“To­day I refuse to al­low this ill­ness to steal the mem­ory of these peo­ple I’ve loved and lost,” he said, “You are loved and not alone.” Bob Novotny lost a son. “It will con­trol your thoughts and ac­tions,” he said. “Drug ad­dic­tion doesn’t care if you die.

“Be aware of those at risk. Talk about this. Take ac­tion and be­come part of the so­lu­tion. Most im­por­tantly, don’t turn away.”

Kevin Pa­trick Kelly talked about loss.

“Take the love you have for them and give it to ev­ery per­son you meet,” Kelly said.

Her­rin ended the vigil with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.

“Dark­ness can­not drive out dark­ness,” Her­rin said. “Only light can do that.

“Hate can­not drive out hate. Only love can do that.”

BILL RET­TEW - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Speaker Kevin Pa­trick Kelly’s fa­ther, Kevin Kelly, holds a can­dle while re­mem­ber­ing those lost to opi­oids.

BILL RET­TEW - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Mayor Dianne Her­rin and man-about-town Kyle Hud­son re­mem­ber those lost to opi­oids at Thurs­day’s vigil.

BILL RET­TEW - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Opi­oid vic­tims are re­mem­bered as can­dle lights brighten up the His­toric Ch­ester County Court­house steps.

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