Kannapolis, NC (WBTV) - An effort is underway this weekend to break the trend of heroin and opioid addiction in Cabarrus and Rowan counties. That area has seen some of the highest overdose numbers in the state in recent years.
Last fall, Cabarrus was ranked first among the state’s 100 counties in heroin overdoses, and Rowan County was not far behind.
A rally is set for Friday and Saturday that organizers say will be much more than a onetime effort.
The Hope Over Heroin rally will bring together speakers, live musical groups, a BMX biker group, addiction resources and more at Village Park in Kannapolis.
This is faith-based, combing nearly 30 local churches and the national Hope Over Heroin organization.
Organizers say in many cases the spiritual element of overcoming addiction is overlooked, that won’t be the case here.
For many of those who are helping to organize the rally, the motivation is very personal.
“We left the house one day to go to the parade and when we came back he wasn’t answering texts,” said Nancy Threadgill, who lost her son Josh in 2014. “My husband found him that evening. He had overdosed at some point that afternoon.”
“We were experiencing great pain with Josh, and you could feel that pain as a pastor…you feel that pain, and it just got worse,” said Pastor Brian Rabon of River of Life Church in Kannapolis.
It was that experience, and the growing number of overdose cases that continue to play out every day in Cabarrus and Rowan counties, that led Rabon to seek a solution.
What he liked about Hope Over Heroin was the comprehensive nature of the effort.
Hope Over Heroin is a nondenominational, faith-based group formed in 2014 by a group of Cincinnati pastors who felt compelled to do something after 14 heroin overdoses in one week in Hamilton County, Ohio.
Since then, more than 78,000 people have attended its rallies, with more than 5,000 people aligned with addiction recovery resources.
Hope Over Heroin’s outreach events unite churches, business and civic leaders and the City of Resources, a tented area filled with dozens of addiction recovery resources.
“We’ve got grief support if it’s a family that lost someone, we have detox centers on standby, we have transportation that churches have provide to get them straight from the park to where they need to go,” Rabon said.
And as a faith-based outreach, Pastor Rabon says there’s an emphasis on what he says is missing from a lot of efforts to fight the epidemic.
“If we meet the spiritual need of this person by providing what Christ has done for all of us, then once that need is met and they can feel the love and need and hope of Christ’s church…truly change people’s lives,” Rabon added.
For Nancy Threadgill, helping with this effort is her faith in action, and a tribute to her son.
“He was very loved, and he was very treasured, and that hasn’t changed. We’re sharing his story with others so that it may help them,” Threadgill said.
The Hope Over Heroin rally takes place on Friday and Saturday nights beginning at 6:00 pm at Village park in Kannapolis.