We get messages like these every day. “Please help”, “our community needs you”, “there isn’t enough awareness” are common themes in these messages. When I read them, it’s like I can physically feel the person on the other end’s heart breaking; they are in complete despair. It’s even worse when I have to give them the news that they don’t want to hear: “We would love to come to every place that we can’t, but we just can’t.”
Walking for Wellness: Stop Heroin started two years ago by my mom and I. Both working full-time, but we knew it was something that we had to do: for us, for our community, for my sister. Our first walk had fifty people. Now, presently, it’s still me and my mom, and we are still working our other full time jobs. However, we have been blessed with a plethora of volunteers and coordinators, who have their own jobs and own lives, but take their own time to spend on their community, and are the heart of this organization (honestly, that could be a post in itself…you all are amazing!).
Why can’t we go everywhere? Believe me, we wish we could (Sam and I always talk about how great it would be to quit everything and go on a Walking for Wellness: Stop Heroin tour and just start walks everywhere. Brilliant? Yes. Feasible? Absolutely not.). Our organization is 100% funded on apparel sales. We get some donations, but we don’t have grants, we don’t have a building, we don’t have any of that. We are 100% funded on t-shirt sales. That’s how we supply our walks with bracelets to give to their walkers, for walker cards that we give to people who are curious about our shirts, for the banners that people sign in memory of a lost loved one: for everything.
The good news is this: we’re reaching people. They see our shirts, or they see the bracelets and they know “they’re from Walking for Wellness: Stop Heroin”. We’ve had mayors and other officials, come to our walks, police officers walk with us, countless articles written about all of our awesome walks and memorial walks. We’re reaching people. I got this message from a friend that I’ve met through Walking for Wellness: Stop Heroin today:
We are making a difference. We’re reaching people from all over (we haven’t had a walk in Florida, or anywhere in the south, FYI, so this was really exciting!).
What does this mean? If you have lost someone to heroin, think back on how that felt, how it still feels. I can specifically remember everything about how I felt when I found out my sister had died: the shock of losing someone just like that, it physically hurts. And it doesn’t go away. There are people all of the nation who are feeling that right now. They are in that same point of “how do we go on?”, “what can we even do about this?”. One community is not more important that any other community. All of the proceeds can’t go to supporting one community, they support all of them. Walking for Wellness: Stop Heroin isn’t just about one geographical community, we are a community together in ourselves. We’re about experiencing and supporting this journey together. We need you to help us help them. They need you. Your Walking for Wellness: Stop Heroin shirt is more than just a shirt. It symbolizes that you’re part of something bigger; a collaboration of people who have experienced a loss unlike any other. You’re a part of the Stop Heroin family.
We wouldn’t be where we are today without you. We wouldn’t be here today without the people that we lost, the people who live on in our hearts forever. We want to keep supporting as many people as we can, and the communities that we currently serve. Thank you for all you have done in the fight against heroin. Together, we do, and will continue to make a difference.