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Candles lit for those lost

A vigil was held to mark International Overdose Awareness Day

Posted: August 24, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 24, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Program coordinator Bob Sharits places a photo on a wall of remembrance for those who have had drug related deaths at the Action Foundation Candlelight Vigil, Drug Overdose Awareness & Memorial held at the Action Family Zone in Canyon Country on Friday.

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More than 100 were in attendance Friday as the Action Family Foundation held a candlelight vigil to mark International Overdose Awareness Day, a remembrance event for those who have died from drug overdoses.

“It’s one of those things we can make a difference on,” Action Family Foundation Founder Cary Quashen said of drug addiction. “And the more we do, the more lives we are going to save.”

Many in attendance had a personal stake in the issue, either being addicts themselves or knowing someone who had struggled with or died as a result of their addiction.

It’s a struggle Krissy McAfee knows all too well. Her son, Trae, died of a heroin overdose when he was 24 years old.
“Tonight we’re not only here to remember those that we lost,” she said, “but also to break the horrible stigma that surrounds a death by overdose.”

Part of the goal of events like the one on Friday is to make sure that those who died are remembered and that their lives are not lost in vain, said Bob Sharits with Action Family Counseling.

And part of that, Sharits said, is people spreading the word about the dangers of drug and alcohol use and working to reduce the stigma of addiction so people are not afraid to seek out treatment.

“The message is very simple,” Sharits said. “Drugs and alcohol kill.”

Quashen had a similar message.

“Look what it did. Look what it does,” he told the seated group. “Nothing is worth this.”

The event concluded with the vigil, where attendees carried lit candles, each symbolizing someone they knew who had died.

One candle was held by Mindy McKeddie, who saw her friend die as a result of drug use.

“This stuff kills you,” McKeddie said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to live through it.”
On Twitter @LukeMMoney


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