For me it was a great honor to take part in the 1St Annual Qwinn’s Walk For H.O.P.E. To be amongst so many amazing people and to bring such a powerful message of HOPE was a tremendous honor. Check out the recap from the Tribune Review

Long-term recovering drug addicts on Saturday said they are living proof that sobriety is attainable even though the heroin epidemic and other drugs are killing every day.

Their positive words of hope, faith and drug education brought cheers from hundreds of people at an anti-drug rally in Tarentum Saturday evening.

Each of the messages eloquently gave purpose to Qwinn’s Walk for HOPE — named for 24-year-old Qwinn Ballard, who died April 26 from opiate pill misuse.

More than 300 people endured 90-plus-degree heat and humidity to walk briskly from the Brackenridge gazebo to Tarentum pavilion, where at least 150 people were waiting to learn how they can help.

Most wore orange T-shirts with the word HOPE in white. HOPE stands for Help Overdose Prevention with Education. Like many other speakers, Tarentum Mayor Carl Magnetta urged the men, women and children to make Saturday’s walk an inaugural event, a beginning, not an end, and he reminded people about the power of prayer.

Two of the many speakers called for an organized response.

VonZell Wade, a former New Kensington cocaine addict and dealer in the 1980s and early 1990s, went to jail before turning his life around. He uses his doctoral degree in counseling to run Lost Dreams Awakening, a nonprofit addiction counseling center he operates in New Kensington with his wife, Laurie. He has been a counselor for more than 20 years.

“We have to unite as a community to fight back against the epidemic. The most powerful tool we have is prayer,” Wade said. “Drug addiction doesn’t discriminate. Red, yellow, black, white and brown. We all have to come together. And the miracle is we do recover,” he said about what he hopes can be the rule rather than the exception.

Read the full article here: http://triblive.com/news/valleynewsdispatch/10830504-74/addiction-walk-www

Check out some photos from Qwinn’s Walk For H.O.P.E.:
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