Second annual Overdose Awareness Day vigil brings light to grieving families

The vigil will be held on Aug. 31 at 6 p.m. at Indian Acres Tree Farm

The second annual International Overdose Awareness Day Vigil is lighting the way to recovery.

The vigil — one of two to be held in Burlington County this year — will be held on Aug. 31 at 6 p.m. at Indian Acres Tree Farm on Tuckerton Road in Medford, where hundreds of community members are expected to gather to grieve and remember the lives lost due to addiction and to spread hope for those in recovery.

The Overdose Awareness Day vigil was started by Gail O’Brien, founder of the Adam O’Brien Recovery Foundation, after recognizing the need for the Burlington County community to come together and show support for one another.

O’Brien started the Adam O’Brien Recovery Foundation in 2014, after the loss of her son Adam, following struggles with his addiction. The foundation guides recovering addicts through the rehab process, provides sober living facilities, transportation to treatment, assistance in gaining employment and more.

“We walk them through the whole recovery process and we support them,” O’Brien said. “We saw a need to help these people, it was so needed in our area.”

O’Brien hopes that the vigil will continue to break the stigma surrounding addiction, and that it will show others that they are not alone in their struggles — not only for those recovering, but for their family members and close friends as well.

This vigil poses to represent people who have passed from drug use, along with those who have passed due to other complications stemming from drug use, such as cardiac arrest, hepatitis C, suicide and more.

There will be an array of speakers and local nonprofit organizations present on Aug. 31, including Assemblyman Ryan Peters, Teri Earl with Marlton Elks, Tom Clark with HeroinKillsNJ, Joseph Mitsch with Step by Step, Tom Murphy with Offering Hope, Lisa Vandegrift with Sabrina’s Law, L.E.A.D. Officer Bill Kinner, Staffing Solutions, Abbies Angels, Hand N Heart, Parents Coalition for Substance Abuse Awareness and Siblings Against Substance Abuse.

“For the second year, Burlington County is holding an International Overdose Awareness Day vigil and it is more needed than ever. People are becoming more aware by the day how big of a crisis drug addiction is in this country, and we need to make sure beating this isn’t something that falls on the back burner,” Assemblyman Peters said. “Not only does the vigil continue the conversation on fighting the drug overdose epidemic, but it also provides a time for our area to heal together and find support within the community.”

Following the speakers, the candlelight vigil will take place, along with a video featuring people from the area that have lost their lives. There will be information provided for those in attendance seeking recovery outlets.

“This is one thing we do to totally give back to the community. It’s about bringing people together who have lost loved ones,” O’Brien said. “It’s all about remembering these people, supporting one another and offering hope to those in recovery.”