Wentzville Alderman Michael Rhoades announced at last night’s board of aldermen meeting that 700 t-shirts have been reserved by participants who have registered for Saturday’s Walk to STOP Heroin.
The event, Rhoades said, is a chance for concerned citizens to take a stand, show support, share resources, and celebrate success stories in the fight against a dangerous and growing heroin epidemic.
Rhoades’ idea for a awareness walk was embraced by the Wentzville Board of Aldermen, Mayor Nick Guccione, and the Wentzville Police Department. The police department is hosting the May 14 event, and city officials will welcome the participants and lead the walk, which will begin at Heartland Park and travel north and east on Wentzville Parkway to the Law Enforcement Center.
The event is rain or shine, and everyone is welcome – strollers included. Participants are also encouraged to bring signs, pictures, or posters to show their support and encouragement. Some participants will be bringing balloons to release in memory of loved ones who have been lost due to heroin overdose.
Even though all 700 t-shirts have been claimed, everyone is welcome to participate, even without advance registration. On Saturday, registration starts at 8 a.m. and the walk begins at 9 a.m.
After the walk, people who have been affected by heroin will share their stories, and information about resources will be available. A shuttle will be available to return walkers to their cars at Heartland Park.
Earlier this year, the Wentzville Police Department started carrying NARCAN, an opium antidote, to reverse overdoses.
Wentzville officers responded to overdose calls four times in 2013, five times in 2014 and six times in 2015. By mid-February 2016, officers had responded to two overdose calls. Since officers are often at the scene before EMS, officers were trained in the administration of NARCAN, which blocks the effect not only of a heroin overdose, but also prescription pain pills like morphine, codeine, oxycodone, methadone and Vicodin.
Police are quick to recognize the signs of an overdose when they are respond to a call with an unconscious subject. However, should NARCAN be administered to someone who has not taken an opioid drug, it will have no effect and causes no side effects.
NARCAN is a miracle drug and a wonderful tool for first responders in their work, but the Walk to STOP Heroin hopes to raise awareness so that it never has to happen.
“The goal of this walk is to connect our community with the available resources in hopes people will not try heroin, not even once,” a city press release stated. “The resources will provide valuable information on the signs and symptoms of use, counseling availability and emergency intervention for children during times of crisis.”