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Danvers “Light the Night Purple” highlights significance of opioid epidemic
by Mary Byrne, Danvers Herald, May 19th 2017
Residents of Danvers and the surrounding towns gathered for the second Light the Night Purple walk, an opiate awareness event hosted by DanversCARES.
On the same day family and friends buried Danvers resident Alexis “Lexi” Zimmermann, the Danvers community gathered at the Rotary Pavillion for an event to raise awareness on the addiction that took her life.
Zimmermann, 21, died of an overdose on May 12.
On Wednesday evening, residents of Danvers and the surrounding towns gathered for the second Light the Night Purple walk, an opiate awareness event hosted by DanversCARES, a prevention organization managed by Danvers Public Schools.
Dozens showed up for the one mile walk through Danvers and to hear words from Sen. Joan Lovely, D-Salem, and Northshore Recovery High School’s Principal Michelle Lipinski.
The evening opened with words from DanversCARES Program Director Peg Sallade.
″[These walks] show points of hope,” said Sallade. ”… [Addiction] is beatable, and it can be overcome.”
Lovely thanked DanversCARES for organizing the walk, highlighting the impact the opioid epidemic has had on a national and state level, but also on the local level.
“This is so crucial for you to be here tonight,” she said, noting the community’s recent loss. “We all have been affected by the opioid crisis — whether its a loved one, a friend, a neighbor or coworker — everyone knows someone who has been affected.”
Speaking on behalf of the Northshore Recovery High School, Lipinski emphasized the importance — and bravery — in sharing stories of addiction and recovery. She introduced one of her former students, CJ Morey, who shared with the audience his own story.
Morey, now three years sober, told the crowd that everyone’s path to recovery is different.
“The stigma makes it hard to reach out,” he said.
But, he said, there are multiple paths to recovery — and for him, the journey isn’t over.
“It’s a daily thing I think about every single day,” he said.
Sallade wanted to thank all the participating town departments, local sponsors, and local businesses who supported the event with purple ribbons — or in the case of the Maple Street Congregational Church, a purple runway carpet.
“The major portion of the event is funded locally by local sponsors,” she said, noting the support of Lahey Health, East Boston Savings Bank, Recovery Centers of America, Maple Street Congregational Church, First Ipswich Bank, Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery, and St. John’s Prep. “It’s not possible without local funding.”
The walk was, in part, financially supported by the Massachusetts Opiate Abuse Prevention Collaborative grant program, a grant funded by the Department of Public Health Bureau of Substance Abuse Services.
Overall, Sallade was pleased with the turnout, which she said matched the turnout of the inaugural walk.
“I think people are talking about [the epidemic], and we need to continue to work on creative solutions together,” she said.
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DanversCARES would like to thank everyone who pitched in to make this opioid awareness event focused on prevention, treatment and recovery a great success. Check out the Danvers Herald article Light the Night Purple and the photos of the event!