By Jack Mariano
Betsy Gillen, President of the Parkesburg Chapter of Kacie’s Cause welcomed the crowd that was jammed into the Parkesburg Point Center and drew a large round of applause when she announced that the event had registered over 400 participants. Betsy and husband Soccer, lost their son John to a fatal overdose of heroin laced with fentanyl on July 6, 2011. They attended the first Kacie’s Cause meeting at Longwood and decided that a local chapter was needed. Betsy went on to thank the Point, headed up by Dwayne Walton) for hosting the event. She introduced State Representative Harry Lewis and State Senate Candidate Jack London who were in the audience and she thanked the Borough Of Parkesburg and the Police Department for their cooperation guiding the two mile walk. Betsy also acknowledged the presence of Andy Rumford of Kennett square that lost his daughter Kacie to an overdose in March of 2013 and thus began the Kacie’s cause awareness program. Further in her remarks, Betsy pointed out that the Parkesburg Chapter works closely with the Octorara school District along with surrounding communities.
In addition to today’s event the Parkesburg Chapter is in the process of raising funds for an out-door skateboard park to be built later this year, at the Point. Donations are still being accepted for that project.
Ethan Healy from the Good Fellowship Ambulance & EMS training institute in West Chester spoke on how his organization has educated more than 700 police officers throughout Chester County in the administration of Naloxone, a first line of defense in drug overdose cases. This training has accounted for more than fifty “saves” throughout the county.
Martie Gillin founder of “Speak Up” based out of St. David’s, PA spoke about their late son, Bob who the eldest of ten children, who passed away in 1992, and how communicating issues such as drug addiction need to be brought out into the open, discussed and acted upon. As the case with many families, problems that seem to happen to everyone else come into focus when it actually affects your own family. Admitting to life problems and addictions is something that people are afraid to do. She pleaded: “We need to break the silence”. www.speakup.org
This year’s leaders of the walk were Tom and Karen Ramsey who lost their son Jake to drug addiction in February. Tom Ramsey also addressed the audience prior to the walk.
The large group of walkers hiked two miles through the borough east on Main St. – beneath the Route 10 under pass, west on First Ave to West St. over to Third Ave and trekked up the hill to South Culvert and then back across town to Main Street culminating back at the Point where generous refreshments http://www.kaciescause.com/subchapters/parkesburg.html
The events sponsors were listed on the back of the many tee shirts that were distributed to those who per-registered for the event.
Kacie’s Cause Parkesburg Chapter provided Parkesburg today with the following additional information:
- Participate in various Octorara Area School District events
- Participate on Octorara’s “Team O”, group of adults from local community venues who brainstorm ideas to enhance teaching and learning
- Stream Webcasts into middle & high school homerooms
- Present programs during assemblies & provide drug-related handouts
- Kacie’s Kloset – Pos Prom Exp – new&used gowns donated-students buy w/cans to PB Food C
- Offer $1000 John Gillen Memorial Scholarship to a graduating student who has displayed and upholds a drug-free lifestyle
- Intermediate level drawing contest with motto and pledge:
2Smart2Start = Drug Free Forever
- Younger grades created program “Substance Abuse and the Family” consisting of personal group sessions for grades K-2 and 3-4 where we work with the kids to build their self-esteem and provide skills to help them cope with the crises they face in their young lives.
- Participate in Parkesburg & Atglen Community Days, YMCA Events
- Make ourselves available for parent support – with day to day struggles, resources for detox, rehab, recovery. Kacie’s Cause is currently offering regular parent support groups in Kennett & Honeybrook.
- Hold an Annual Community Meeting to bring awareness of the heroin epidemic to a sometimes unsuspecting community – last year in Sept –
- EMTs demonstrate administrating Narcan and how drug abuse impacts the community from their perspective
- Panel of experts solely for the purpose of Q&A with the audience
- Attorney, Director of Chester County Drug & Alcohol (also answer about Insurance), Supervisor of Bail Agency, ChesCo District Attorney, Probation Officer, a Therapist &
- Young people in recovery who shared their stories about living a life of addiction and how recovery is possible
- Awesome panel with a ton of excellent information
- Participate on the Chester County Overdose Prevention Task Force as we share the same mission and goals in our school district and the surrounding communities
- Partner with the Parkesburg Point with a couple initiatives
- Annual Mother’s Day Walk
- Outdoor skate park being built on the grounds of the Point starting this summer. Our son was a member of the Point and an accomplished skateboarder who mentored to younger kids by teaching them how to skate & do tricks. John Gillen represents only one of a large number of Parkesburg youth who in one way or another are affected by addictive behaviors. Together, we envision the skate park to be a fun, healthy, Christian-based environment that will offer education, support, and a safe haven where kids are reminded that a drug-free lifestyle will guarantee a better chance for a successful future. It is humbling that we will see this project through to completion in John’s memory and call it the John D. Gillen Memorial SkatePark.