LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Families and those impacted from all over the state by addiction and overdose gathered Wednesday to grieve, remember, and raise awareness on International Overdose Awareness Day.
Banners lined the Clinton Presidential Bridge in Little Rock.
“Each one has 150 photos of someone we’ve lost to overdose or Fentanyl poisoning,” said one mother who lost her son, Staci James.
According to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, more than 100,000 people die every year from drug overdoses nationwide.
“That’s every five minutes in the United States, someone is dying from overdose,” said another mother who lost her son due to overdose, Paula Cunningham.
Paula Cunningham’s son, Parker, battled addiction from a young age.
“We struggled along with Parker. He was very open with us about what he was dealing with,” said Cunningham.
In 2018, he overdosed. In his honor, she began the Parker Gill Foundation, on a mission to fight the stigma of addiction and end overdose deaths in Arkansas.
“I have used my pain to try to make a difference and save someone’s life,” stated Cunningham.
Cunningham partnered with another mom who lost her son to Fentanyl poisoning, to create the “Bridge the Gap” event.
That bridge lit up the night sky with the color purple – a color that represents overdose awareness day.
“This day is set aside for our loved ones that were ripped from us, and it’s a day for us all to be together,” said James.
For families from all over Arkansas to gather on International Overdose Awareness Day, to remember and reflect.
“We have no doubt that every face on that banner is absolutely okay if it can save one life if it can turn one person’s suffering around. That’s what they are there for,” stated James.
Also, to walk with those in recovery, to share hope.
“Nothing we do will bring our loved ones back — but we can help save yours,” said James.