NEW CASTLE, Pa. (WYTV) – Just last year alone, an average of 10 people per day overdosed on drugs in Pennsylvania, the most the state has ever seen.
Over 400 people attended the Jericho Walk and lined the streets of downtown New Castle for the 2nd annual Lights of Hope vigil. The event was held by Vision Ministries of Lawrence County’s Pathway to Freedom.
Their goal is to bring awareness to the deadly heroin epidemic, offer support to those in recovery and to help the loved ones who were left behind.
Like many families across Lawrence County, Vaughn Crisci has been touched by drug addiction. He is still mourning the loss of his son.
“My son passed away two years ago, August 1, to a heroin overdose. My daughter is clean one year next month, and this event last year is what catapulted her into recovery,” Crisci said.
Crisci is the vice president of Pathway to Freedom.
“I know your pain and we must stand together to overcome this,” he said.
Crisci, alongside Dan Bailey, a recovery specialist, work to spread the message of recovery and education.
“If you study addiction, you find out that it’s really not a disease of the brain, but of the spirit. So here, what we’re trying to do tonight, again, is to bring that awareness but also the spiritual side of this. This is a very spiritual event,” Bailey said.
Last year, Pennsylvania saw its worst death rate due to drug overdoses, and those 3,500 lives were honored in a silencing video tribute.
“Under the circumstances of everything that’s been happening as far as heroin overdoses, not just in this city but across the United States, this had to happen,” said Randy Crum, president of Vision Ministries of Lawrence County.
Saturday night, the message was clear; where there is light, there is also hope.
Nationwide, the Lights of Hope event is normally held in September. But with the recent string of deadly overdoses across the U.S., organizers said they couldn’t have planned this at a better time.