A group of local residents fed up with the drug issues plaguing Highland County are fighting back and they have their first two events coming up Aug. 31 and Oct. 1.
Take Back Our County: Hope for Highland originated around April and “caught on fire over the summer,” according to coordinator Hannah Allard.
“It is a community connectiveness group to raise awareness about drug in addiction in our county and to show we’re in this together and care about each other,” said Allard, who works at FRS Counseling in Hillsboro.
Allard said the city of Hillsboro and Hillsboro Police Department are partnering with the group to help put on the upcoming events.
The first one is a balloon launch that will be held at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31 at 313 Chillicothe Ave., Hillsboro, as part of International Overdose Awareness Day.
“Anyone wanting to support the cause, help reduce the stigma, or represent a lost or permanently injured loved one to an overdose is welcome. Balloons and fellowship provided. Bring a marker, note, or anything that you would like to attach to a balloon and join us,” the group said in a news release.
Anyone finding one of the balloons is invited to share a picture on the FRS Counseling Facebook Page.
“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,” the news release said. “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. To celebrate the lives of those loved ones, FRS Counseling invites you to join them on Aug. 31 for International Overdose Awareness Day.”
The second event on Saturday, Oct. 1 will be the Take Back Our County Hope for Highland 5K Glow for Change. But it’s much more than than just a run.
The event starts at 6 p.m. on the Highland County Courthouse Square with free music, food, bounce houses, games, face painting, a diaper crawl and more. Day of the run registration begins at 7 p.m., then at 8 p.m. there will be a one-mile walk. The 5K Glow Run through the streets up uptown Hillsboro begins at 9 p.m.
Allard said area organizations are welcome to set up a booth and take part free of charge, as long as the booth has an activity or game. She said that 15 groups have already signed up, including the Highland County Prosecutor’s Office, DARE, Highland County Drug Abuse Prevention Coalition, Highland County Health Department and others.
She said that In Plain Sight will have a mock kids bedroom set up. Parents can walk through and try to identify items that should raise a red flag about drug use by their children. Good News Gathering will provide the live music. The diaper dash is being set up by the Southern Ohio Pregnancy Center. It’s for kids 1 year old or younger who will race to a finish line 15 to 20 feet from the start. The winners receive prizes. There will also be testimonials from people in drug abuse recovery.
“One thing I hear is that there’s nothing to do here. Sometimes when you have nothing to do it can get you in trouble,” Allard said. “This is a way to have something fun for people to do and provide some drug education awareness at the same time.”
But the real goal is to raise at least part of the $15,000 needed to bring Hope Over Heroin to Highland County.
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, its website says. More information can be found at hopeoverheroin.com.
Allard said Hope Over Heroin came to Wilmington last year and more 2,000 people turned out.
There is a $20 entry for the walk and a $30 entry fee for the run. Participants get T-shirts and for the run there will be glow items like necklaces and bracelets to wear, and possibly a paint station. For more information visit the Hope For Highland County Facebook page.
Take Back Our County meets most Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. Allard said the meetings are open to anyone and that the group tries to meet in different locations around the county, “Because this is a county event, not just Hillsboro.” She said they hope to have upcoming meetings in Greenfield and the Rocky Fork Lake area. Meeting notices are posted on the Facebook page.
Allard said it’s been good to see lots of people wanting to be involved with the Oct. 1 event.
“A lot of people in recovery, families who have lost loved ones, and lots of others are helping,” Allard said. “It’s really cool to see all those people working together toward a common goal.”
For more information call Allard at 937-403-6811.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.