YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The “Steps of Change” walk in Youngstown served as a visual reminder of how serious drug addiction is.
Ohio Change Addiction Now (OhioCAN) had a unique way of showing the impact opiates have in the community. Empty shoes lined Elm Street Saturday afternoon, each representing a life lost to overdose in Mahoning County over the past year.
“I think when you see those empty shoes, there’s such an impact, especially when you see so many,” said coordinator Hope Lovrinoff-Moran. “You realize we’ve lost the potential of each and every person that would’ve been in those shoes. That should still be in those shoes.”
There were a total of 79 empty shoes, all in memory of a loved one. Sixty-six of those people died in Mahoning County from April 1, 2015 to March 31 of this year.
Names of the people who passed away were recited, followed by the remembrance walk. A collage and slide show that was about two hours long accompanied the walk. Inside, OhioCAN discussed addiction and how to fight it.
Lovrinoff-Moran has been directly affected by drug abuse more than once.
“Donny LaJudice, who died April 2 of April 2015, he was a friend of my daughter’s. An ex-stepdaughter, she’s been a heroin addict for 20 years.”
She says she wears combat boots because this is a war against addiction that begins with lawmakers.
“We need to get our legislators, or government or politicians to fund the fight.”
The event’s keynote speaker, U.S. Assistant Attorney Joseph Pijnuh, says stopping addiction starts with education.
“Not just here, I mean education out in the schools and talking to the young people about risky behaviors and how to avoid becoming someone who is using drugs in the first place…That’s all done through education. We’ve got to do that together.”
Seven people spoke at the event. Some from the judicial system talked about the legal issues with drugs. Others spoke about how overdose has impacted their lives.