TAMPA, Fla. — The lawn of Hillsborough High School was illuminated by the candlelight of families who lost their loved ones to drug addiction Thursday evening.
At a vigil hosted by a group called Narcotics Overdose, Prevention and Education (NOPE), the pictures of those who faced drug addiction lined the walls.
“I just wish I could give her one more hug,” said Tina Gair, a mother whose 32-year-old daughter, Tiffany, passed away recently. “She was a beautiful amazing daughter, honest, intelligent.”
At a discussion held before the vigil, speakers said that drug addiction can happen in any community.
“It has no prejudice,” said Cathy Valdes, the NOPE Hillsborough Chapter President. “It doesn’t matter if you live on a park bench, or on Park Avenue.”
At the vigil, families who lost their loved ones said they hoped sharing the stories and educating the community could help save someone else.
“If we could save one child, it would be worth it,” Gair said. “My daughter relapsed one time, unfortunately, it was laced with fentanyl.”
Tampa and Hillsborough County leaders acknowledged that they’ve seen a rise in overdoses, and are working on ways to help bring those numbers down.
According to data from the CDC, Florida ranks second highest in the nation for overdose deaths.
Organizers and family at the vigil are asking that, if you or someone you love is suffering from drug addiction, reach out to a group that can help before it’s too late.
You can find help with NOPE by clicking here.