NEWPORT — There will be an “Overdose Awareness and Memorial Walk” in Newport on June 24, from 1-4, starting at the Newport Gazebo in Gardener Park. The walk is only part of the event, however. It will also include speakers, information on and connection to support available in the area, the continued creation of a memory board, and a Chinese lantern release along with music, pizza and other refreshments.
There were 108 overdoses in the state of Vermont in 2016, with 104 of those being Vermonters. They are sobering numbers.
“All these lost lives were real lives. Real human beings,” thirty-year-old Travis Blake said.
Blake is one of the volunteers who helped organize the event. He is also in recovery from addiction after finding a mix of support that works for him. He wants to send the message of awareness that addiction can kill, but he also wants people to know that there are many paths to recovery, and sometimes it takes some looking around and trying different options.
The point is, he said, there are forms of support out there. There is hope.
Another organizer and volunteer, Tara Patten, helped begin “NEK Stands Strong” after her best friend, Charlie Buckland, died from an overdose. It’s a trauma that is burned into her heart.
“It was three years ago this December – not long before Christmas. December 19th,” she murmured.
The schedule stays true to the dualistic message of loss and hope combined. There will also be T-shirts and bracelets for sale to benefit NEK Stands Strong and its events.
“We aren’t a nonprofit, but the proceeds will be held by Journey to Recovery on our behalf,” Patten explained.
The event is open to the entire community, and participants don’t need to be facing addiction to take part.
“It’s something that touches everyone in one way or another,” Brandon Malshuk said. Blake added that there will be many volunteers to help and answer questions.
“We’ll be wearing the purple shirts, so we’ll be easy to see. Any path to recovery is a good path. Everyone’s life matters.”
For more information on the walk, please call the Journey to Recovery Center at 802-624-4156.