Keeping hope for those battling drug addiction


In 2017, drug overdoses killed 16 people in Jackson County.

They were mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, children, brothers, sisters and other loved ones.

The community will come together to remember their lives during an event Friday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the new Crossroads Community Park in downtown Seymour.

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There will be music, guest speakers sharing their stories of addiction, a balloon release and candle lighting. The event also will provide information and resources to those looking for help and support.

Keeping Hope is the theme of this year’s International Drug Overdose Awareness Day, which is observed annually in communities around the world to both honor those who have died from an overdose and to bring awareness to overdose prevention.

Charlotte Moss, a member of the Jackson County Drug-Free Council and employee of Turning Point Domestic Services in Jackson County, said educating the public is important.

“Having an event like this allows the community to see that others can come together to see there are others facing the same challenges and learn about the support services in place,” she said.

It’s also a day to support those in recovery and reach out to those struggling with addiction.

The event is being organized by the drug-free council and Jackson County United Way.

Jackson County Prosecutor AmyMarie Travis, president of the drug-free council, said the event is for everyone.

“It’s really hard not to know someone who is dealing with addiction or who has overdosed,” she said.

The first step is realizing there is a problem and talking about it, Travis said.

“If we don’t talk about overdoses and drug addiction, we aren’t doing anything to help,” she said. “We want to help heal individuals and that will help heal the community.”

Jen Shapiro of Seymour is a member of the drug-free council’s action team and will be singing at Friday’s event. She is also a recovering drug addict celebrating three years of sobriety.

“Lives lost. Lives changed,” Shapiro said. “It is important to remember lives lost from the use of drugs in our community, but it is more important to realize that lives are changed because of it too.”

Other speakers include Debbie Pettay of Seymour, whose son 23-year-old son Zak Klakamp died March 2 of a drug overdose, and Neal Langley who will speak about overcoming an overdose.

“This event and telling my story helps me more than anything ensure that I am living a sober life in active recovery,” Langley said.

Tonja Couch, executive director of United Way, said drug overdose issues do not discriminate based on socio-economic status, age or profession.

“We invite the whole community to come out and support those who are working to change their lives,” she said.

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What: Keeping Hope: International Overdose Awareness Day event

Where: Crossroads Community Park in downtown Seymour

When: 6 to 8:30 p.m. Friday.

There will be live music, guest speakers, a balloon launch and candle lighting along with information and resources for those who are looking for help and support.

Sponsored by Jackson County Drug-Free Council and Jackson County United Way


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