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2013 NOPE Candle Light Vigil: Prevent Drug Overdose Deaths

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drug overdoseThe Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education (NOPE) Task Force held their 7th Annual Candle Light Vigil last night, Thursday October 24, 2013; including vigils in 21 states and approximately 60 locations across the US and Canada. As people entered the vigil, they were immediately greeted by hundreds of pictures with names and dates on them; these were the images of people who had passed from a drug overdose. Candles were lit and the setting was beautiful. The founders of NOPE Task Force, Richard W. Perry and Karen H. Perry, lost their son to a drug overdose in 2003, at the age of 21. The Perrys created this organization in an effort to signifcantly reduce the frequency and impact of drug overdose death on families and loved ones. Their vision is to make the world free of drug overdose deaths.

A World Free of Drug Overdose Deaths

The host for this year’s NOPE candle light vigil was once again Michele Wright, who is an award winning news anchor for CBS 12. The Color Guard started the ceremony off beautifully, leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, and leaving the crowd respectfully silent for the speakers who would follow. Michele Wright introduced and welcomed one of the co-founders of the NOPE Task Force, Karen H. Perry to the stage, where Perry then began explaining the ceremony and spreading her gratitude to everyone in attendance. Following Perry, Colonel James Stormes of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office stepped up to the podium and relayed facts about drug use and drug overdose deaths in Palm Beach County, Fl. Shortly after, Dr. Tim Worden gave a speech about how to cope with sudden loss due to a drug overdose death.

Former NFL Player Randy Grimes Shares about Addiction

The keynote speaker of the night was Randy Grimes, former NFL Lineman for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Grimes shared about his prescription pill addiction and how he has recovered from drug abuse. After a brief message from the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, "Drug Czar" R. Gil Kerlikowske (via video), the chorus from American Heritage High School sang a few beautiful selections. Following their performance came a solo from Kimberly Perry, daughter of NOPE Task Force co-founders Richard and Karen Perry. As Kimberly Perry sang, everyone in the crowd began lighting their candles and then passing on that light to the person seated beside them. A mother of an addict, Cindy Phillips, came to the podium and shared her tragic story about the loss of her 23 year old daughter, Sara Phillips. She shared deep, meaningful truths about her other children and how they dealt with the loss of their sister to a drug overdose death. The ceremony came to an end with a moment of silence led by Chaplain Mike Tobey, but the memory of that beautiful night will not be forgotten.

How YOU Can Prevent Drug Overdose?

Did you know that more Americans die from a drug overdose than from car accidents? Every day, there are 2,000 teens in the United States trying prescription drugs to get high for the first time. There are an estimated 28,000 unintentional drug overdose deaths every year nationwide. Drug use is serious and people are losing their lives. Families are being destroyed, and communities are being broken as a result. Most people have been affected by addiction one way or another. Join the movement to not only help break the stigma of addiction, but to help prevent future drug overdose deaths. A few ways you could prevent a drug overdose are: locking up your medications, taking action by volunteering, and help spread awareness. Visit Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education’s web site at and see what you can do in your area.

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