Hope Over Heroin, the faith-based movement that seeks to break the chains of addiction and shine a spotlight on the epidemic, will hold a major two-day event in June at the Highland County Fairgrounds, organizers announced Tuesday.
The free local event will be June 16-17 at the fairgrounds. Thousands have attended similar events when they have been held in other communities, according to planners.
Rosalie Canfield, director of operations for the Medina County-based ministry, told local organizers and volunteers that it “takes a couple of months” to properly plan the event, with the goal of bringing the community together to tackle addiction and abuse.
“It’s personal for us,” she said. “We change communities… It is a war.”
Joining Canfield at the Hillsboro Municipal Courtroom on Tuesday was Kim Helton of FRS Counseling, who is the local point person for the event, along with David McKenna, the municipal court judge, and Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera. Sgt. Steve Browder, acting police chief of the Hillsboro Police Department was also present, as was Blazine Monaco, development director for Hope Over Heroin.
Canfield offered a primer on what to expect at the event and the work necessary to plan for it. “There’s no way to capture what happens at an event unless you’re there,” she said.
The weekend will feature music, food, children’s activities and speakers, including former heroin addicts. In addition to helping users overcome their addiction, the event also honors those who have lost their lives to the epidemic.
The spectator benches in the courtroom were filled Tuesday with volunteers, and Helton announced that more than $16,000 has been raised for the fairground experience. Canfield said most of the funds will pay for items like sound, lighting and giant LED screens that will play videos focusing on addiction-related themes.
“It’s very professional,” she said. Ministers and professional counselors will be on hand, she said.
Canfield commended local organizers for bringing Hope Over Heroin to Highland County, calling it “a window of opportunity God is opening” to wake up the community, including churches.
“For you to have accomplished what you’ve accomplished so far, God is in there,” she said.
According to the organization’s website, Hope Over Heroin events have been attended by more than 60,000 people with over 5,000 “decisions for Christ” and more than 1,000 baptisms.
Last October, about 230 walkers and runners took part in an event in Hillsboro to raise money for this year’s Hope Over Heroin weekend, and there were more than 30 booths set up for what was billed as the inaugural “Take Back Our County-Hope for Highland 5K Glow for Change.”
Hope Over Heroin is a collaborative ministry led by pastors in Ohio and Kentucky “who came together to connect the Body of Christ in order to break the chains of the addicted,” according to the organization’s website. More information can be found at hopeoverheroin.com.
A similar event in Wilmington in 2015 saw more than 2,000 people turn out.
A news release from the organization last year stated that over the years “we have learned that addiction does not discriminate; it can affect any person no matter the social status, friend group, family support or geographical location. Right now, Ohio is ranked No. 2 in the nation for heroin overdose and death, (according to a) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. Sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, brothers and sisters have all been lost, right here, in Highland County.”
For more information, visit Hope For Highland County on Facebook.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or by email at [email protected]