(WEHT)- Thursday should have been a happy day for Jodi Miller-Gates and her family. It would have been her son’s 31st birthday, his first after his baby niece was born earlier in August. Instead, it was a painful reminder of life taken far too soon.
Every day, hundreds of families across the country will experience a heartwrenching pain that can take a lifetime to recover from, losing a loved one to a drug overdose. Advocates say addiction and overdoses do not discriminate and happen in virtually every community across the Tri-State, and beyond.
Thursday’s Overdose Awareness Day events took on several different meanings, from some local groups giving away Narcan, to the Evansville Recovery Alliance leaving out dozens of pairs of shoes- one for each person lost to an overdose over the past year. But for Tri-State mothers like Jodi Miller-Gates and Jonna Meyers, Overdose Awareness Day had only one meaning- making sure other mothers don’t feel the same pain they feel.
Miller-Gates says she wouldn’t wish it on anyone, even her worst enemy. Rather than saying it was an overdose, she says her son was “poisoned” after unknowingly taking a pill laced with Fentanyl.
In Henderson, Jonna Meyers told a crowd about her beloved son Spencer- how he always met a friend anywhere he went, had a smile that lit up a room, and died far too young from an overdose. Meyers says she hopes Spencer’s memory doesn’t fade away, rather she hopes his memory will help others to reduce the stigma around addiction and treatment.
Meyers and Miller-Gates may only be connected through tragedy but they hope their sons’ legacies will continue to make an impact in the community by raising awareness to the problem and reducing the stigma tied to it.