In parade, group seeks to shatter the stigma of drug addiction

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 July 2019 at 2:04 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

LYNDONVILLE – The local organization Orleans – Recovery Hope Begins Here carried portraits of people who have died from drug addiction.

Tami Ashton, right, and her mother Linda Fisk both carried the photo of Tami’s daughter, Christina, who died of an overdose at age 34 on June 27, 2016. Christina’s daughter, Hayley Farewell, carried the banner for Orleans – Recovery Hope Begins Here during the Lyndonville parade on Thursday.

“Our goal was to open peoples’ eyes,” Tami Ashton said today. “That’s the message that it can affect anybody. It crosses all races, income levels. Addiction does not discriminate.”

The group carried the photos of about 30 people who have died from addiction, including 14 in Orleans County.

Ashton said many people clapped or touched their hearts and thanked the group for bringing awareness to the issue, while other people expressed disproval for the group’s message during the Fourth of July parade.

Ashton participated with a group from Monroe County in the Lilac Festival parade in May, where they carried portraits of people who died from addiction. Ashton shared that experience with the local Orleans – Recovery Hope group and they wanted to do it for the Lyndonville parade.

Some parents or siblings of people who died of addiction asked that their loved ones’ portraits be in the parade, while the family didn’t think they could emotionally march in the event.

Wayne Litchfield, an Orleans – Recovery Hope volunteer, holds the portrait of the late Maya Colombo of Webster.

Gates to Recovery, which is based on Buffalo Road in Rochester, brought its vehicle to the parade which includes images of people who have died from addiction. S.O.A.R.S. (Substance Overdose Awareness Recovery Services) in Rochester also joined in the Lyndonville parade.

The Gates to Recovery van included the messages: “It’s in my family, too” and “Recovery is possible.”

“Thank you S.O.A.R.S, Gates to Recovery and everyone that walked & pitched in,” Orleans – Recovery Hope posted on its Facebook page after the parade. “We will continue to work to shatter the stigma of this horrendous disease, addiction.

“We will continue to shout from the mountain tops that addiction has no boundaries. We will continue to help anyone that needs it, whether you are a family member, someone in active use, in recovery or lost a loved one to this horrendous disease. We are here for you.”

Kim Lockwood, center in back, holds the portrait of the late Gabby Dusett. Lockwood said participating in the parade was the most powerful thing she has ever done. She wants to help change the way people look at addiction. The portrait of Mark Kinsey is carried at left. The Clarendon resident died at age 35 of an overdose on June 1.

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