LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) — The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has partnered with Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education (NOPE) to hold its 12th candlelight vigil for victims of drug overdoses.
The event will take place on Thursday, Oct. 20 at Largo Central Park, located at 105 Central Park Drive in Largo. It will begin at 7 p.m.
This year’s theme “Hearts of Hope” aims to let people know there is always hope through recovery when battling addiction. The event’s organizers are encouraging those who have lost someone to drug addiction to come out and hear from others who might be able to help them with their grief.
“No one expects their child to grow up and be a drug addict,” said Jill Augustine, who lost her son Scott 4 years ago after he took pills that were laced with Fentanyl.
“Most people don’t know that it’s in there I know my son didn’t,” she said. “He wasn’t trying to kill himself. I think he just got something that had fentanyl in it.”
She says losing her son was one of the most painful things she’s had to endure, which is why she is now an advocate, speaking out against drug addiction.
The mission of NOPE is to diminish the frequency and impact of overdose deaths with community education, family support, and purposeful advocacy.
The vigil is held to reduce the stigma surrounding addiction so that those suffering from the disease will openly seek help.
The event recognizes those in the community who struggle with addiction and aspires to bring hope.
The vigil program includes inspirational messages from local leaders and performances by a local middle school chorus. The night closes with two keynote speakers and the lighting of candles.
The event is free and open to the public. The event was unable to take place for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Attendees who have lost a family member or friend to drugs or alcohol are encouraged to bring a picture to place on the memorial wall the night of the vigil.