PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — NOPE of Pinellas County hosted a candlelight vigil Thursday to remember those who have lost their lives to addiction.
Hundreds of people were in attendance for the ceremony at Central Park in Largo.
Several guest speakers shared stories of those who lost their lives to substance abuse, including Laurie Serra, who lost her son to addiction.
Her son, Matthew Serra, was a state-ranked swimmer and graduated from the Virginia Mary Institute, but his life was cut short.
“Forever your life is never the same,” Serra said. “It’s like a hole in you and it never goes away.”
Susan Korabek also shared stories about her son, Landon, who died at the age of 17.
“He was not an addict,” Korabek said. “He took some drugs that were not prescribed to him and he died in his sleep. When the autopsy came back it said he combined two prescription drugs that were not prescribed to him.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of deaths related to drug overdoses increased by 60% within five years.