Vigil planned for Connecticut opioid overdose victims

HARTFORD --  Hundreds are expected to gather on the steps of the Connecticut Capitol Building next week in honor of the lives lost in Connecticut to drug overdose and addiction.

On August 31st, International Overdose Awareness Day, a vigil of remembrance will be held to honor the lives taken by the opioid crisis in the Greater Hartford region.  The organizers of the vigil, include founders of CT HOPE Initiative, Justice’s Fight, and Today I Matter, among others.  Those putting the vigil together have been personally impacted by the opioid crisis in some way.

John Lally of Ellington, and founder of Today I Matter, one of the many parents in Connecticut who have lost a child to an opioid overdose.

“This has become much more personal to us, because my son Timothy died of a heroin overdose just a little over a year and a half ago,” Lally said.  His story is now one that had become common in the state.

“Many of us might have heard we lost 917 individuals in Connecticut in 2016 to overdose,” Lally said.

Those 917 lives will be recognized at the vigil by 917 purple flags displayed on the state capitol building’s lawn.

“This is the one day we get out of the year to honor those who have been lost,” Sarah Howroyd, co-founder of CT HOPE Initiative, said.  Howroyd is currently in long-term recovery from an opioid addiction, which began after she was treated with prescription opioid pain medication following a car accident.

“I want people to feel like they’re not alone I want for families who’ve lost folks to feel like hey there’s this big community who is here and we’re really, we’re rooting for you,” Howroyd explained about the upcoming vigil.

Along with the display of flags on the capital lawn, there will be a display of images of many of the lives lost to opioid addiction in the greater Hartford region.

“When people see a face they know there’s a story there’s a person, there’s a family behind that it’s not just a number,” Lally said.  Inspired by a similar display at an event in the nation’s capitol, he said putting together the posters of the opioid crisis victims has become a passion project.

“I put out notices to people and through Facebook and through contacts to ask people to contact me if they’d like to have their loved one involved in this poster project,” Lally said, adding the number of the posters he’s making seems to be growing by the day.

“It’s not an easy project to do, but I have a passion about it in my son’s name, but it tears at you a little bit each time you get another call or another picture,” Lally said with sullenly.

Each poster of the individual’s picture is accompanies by two qualities their loved ones remember most about the.

“For instance, under my son’s photo it says artist and musician.  Other people talk about adventurer, or caretaker, or loving individual,” Lally said.  He added his hope for this upcoming vigil, “is that everyone would stop and think for a moment, whether they know someone connected to this problem or not.”

Howroyd said names will also be read of the lives lost during the vigil and there will be services and resources available for anyone looking to find their way into recovery.

The vigil takes place Thursday, August 31st from 5:30-7:30 p.m., on the state capitol building lawn on Capital Avenue, in Hartford.  Parking is available at the Legislative Office Building garage.

For anyone still looking to get their loved one’s image included in the vigil or the poster project you can email John Lally at JohnLally@TodayIMatter.org or contact him through the organization’s website here.