WEST CHESTER >> In an effort to raise awareness of the impact of the nation’s dangerous opioid and heroin addiction epidemic and its reach into Chester County, officials are organizing a race event that combines athleticism with a bit of color.
On Nov. 5, the county will host a “Color 5K” run and walk event in West Chester, funds from which will go to county agencies that are battling the addiction problem on multiple fronts.
Figures from the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration show that in 2015, there were 63 drug overdose deaths in the county, many of those from heroin or opioid drugs like Oxycontin.
“Chester County is one of the wealthiest, best educated and healthiest counties in the nation,” county commissioners Chairman Terence Farrell said in a statement announcing the event. “However, we face the same overdose epidemic that is creating significant issues — and causing deaths — across Pennsylvania and America.”
The commissioners are being joined in the effort by county District Attorney Tom Hogan, who has already been involved in the effort to raise awareness of the addiction problem across the county. He is a member of county-wide group, the Overdose Prevention Task Force, set up to combat the epidemic. Others include the county’s Health Department and the Department of Drug and Alcohol Services.
“Members of this task force are leading the fight against opioid and heroin addiction, serving as a model for all of Pennsylvania,” Hogan said in the announcement of the 5K event. “Our approach includes the arrest and prosecution of drug dealers, diverting addicts into treatment and counseling through Drug Court, educating kids and their parents through our Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education (NOPE) program, taking drugs off the streets through our drop box initiative, and working with doctors and health care providers on opioid prescribing practices.
“We work every day to come up with new ways to protect our kids,” said Hogan.
The “Color 5K” is a fun, non-competitive run and walk event where participants begin the event in a cloudburst of color, then are doused in vibrant colored powder — non-toxic corn starch — as they pass by color stations along the 5K route. The event is designed for adults and children.
The event will begin in Everhart Park in West Chester. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the race starts at 9 a.m. For details on the event, and to register to run or walk, go to http://chesco.org/color5k.
Commissioner Michelle Kichline noted, “This color 5K run and walk serves two purposes – to raise awareness that this addiction crisis is found throughout Chester County, and also to raise funds for Chester County hospitals to study and coordinate a ‘warm hand-off’ program that transitions those who have been saved from an overdose into long-term treatment and counseling.
“Americans are the number one consumers of opioids and they are being abused by young and old, rich and poor, urban and rural,” added Commissioner Kathi Cozzone. “Prescription drug abuse has opened the door to heroin use, especially among young people, because heroin is cheaper and easier to obtain.”
Sponsorship opportunities at many levels are available for companies and individuals to offset the cost of the color 5K run and walk and raise additional funds. For more information on levels of sponsorship, contact Rebecca Brain, Chester County Communications Coordinator, at 610-344-6279 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.