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Black Balloon Day is March 6

Fri, Feb 24th 2017 04:45 pm

Members of the Erie County Opiate Epidemic Task Force's Family & Consumer Support Advocacy Section, along with the West Side Youth Development Coalition, will remember and pay tribute to individuals who have succumbed to opioid addiction in Erie County.

Black Balloon Day, a day of remembrance for those lost to opioid addiction and their loved ones, will take place at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 6, on the steps of Old Erie County Hall, 92 Franklin St. in downtown Buffalo.

The event is in response to a spike in the atoll overdoses caused by heroin and other opiates. A display of black balloons outside the entrance to County Hall - representing the collective community front door - will pay silent tribute to the victims of opiate addiction. The event's objective is to increase awareness of the daily struggles faced by members of our community who suffered the loss of a loved one, and those who are still battling, working tirelessly to help their loved one manage their addiction.

Erie County Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein, along with others, will offer remarks reflecting on the effect this epidemic has had on the community, particularly families who have lost loved ones. Upon conclusion of the brief program, attendees will take balloons home to affix to their front porch or mailbox.

"We are truly saddened by the loss of cherished members of our community to opioid addiction," said Burstein. "Their memories inspire us to work together to help others affected by opioid addiction overcome this challenge and prevent additional lives lost. I encourage all Erie County residents to provide support and understanding to all affected and to recognize opioid addiction is a disease, not an undesirable behavior."

"We come together to support each other and as a reminder that the opiate epidemic has greatly affected numerous Erie County residents," commented Erie County Legislator Lynne Dixon. "So many families have suffered. There is much work to be done. It is my hope that we continue our efforts to address this issue and save other families from this devastation."

Black Balloon Day is a nationwide commemoration that originated in Peabody, Massachusetts, by Lauren and Diane Hurley. It is hoped that if every person in America affected by this epidemic hung a black balloon outside their house, the widespread nature of addiction would be apparent and recognized in each community.

The Erie County Opiate Epidemic Task Force Family Work Group is comprised of family members and loved ones of those currently addicted, as well as those who have already lost a loved one to opiate addiction. Their mission is to support, participate in advocacy efforts and to develop an integrated support network for family and friends dealing with the effects of addiction in a loved one. The West Side Youth Development Coalition is a substance use prevention coalition that targets the West Side of Buffalo and operates from SUNY Buffalo State's Institute for Community Health Promotion.

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