At center, mayor David McCauley and executive director of the Opportunity House, Inc., Matt Kerner, commemorate Black Balloon Day. Find a host of recovery resources at www.help4wv.com.

Buckhannon honors lives lost to addiction, stands with those still struggling during Black Balloon Day

BUCKHANNON – The City of Buckhannon this week paid tribute to people whose lives have been lost to addictions of all kinds.

Mayor David McCauley, Opportunity House Executive Director Matt Kerner and other Opportunity House employees and residents gathered at city hall Wednesday for commemoration of the fifth annual Black Balloon Day, held every March 6. This year marks the second time the city has participated in the ceremony.

Typically, black balloons are tied to the home of a family or person affected by addiction or they’re released in memory of people whose deaths were addiction-related; however, due to Wednesday’s frigid temperatures, no actual balloons were released.

In addition to remembering the lives of those who have passed away, Black Balloon Day takes place to encourage people currently battling addiction to maintain hope they can overcome the illness.

“Today, we remember all of the members of our community who we have lost to drug addiction, while continuing to express our hopes for those who carry on their battle every day, while offering support to those who aid their recoveries,” McCauley said. “We need to continue our efforts to instill hope for those who battle addiction, and be mindful of our society’s offering second, third, fourth, and fifth chances to those battling this dreadful disease.”

An international and national event, Black Balloon Day came to be because of a family’s tragic loss in 2015. Diane and Lauren Hurley began Black Balloon Day in remembrance of Greg Tremblay. Tremblay, a father of four, is the son-in-law of Diane and brother-in-law of Lauren and died of an overdose when he was 38 years old on March 6, 2015.

According to data McCauley cited, drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., with over 70,000 deadly drug overdoses in 2017 alone. In 2017, a large percentage of those deaths were linked to heroin, fentanyl or prescription opioids.

The Opportunity House is a nonprofit organization that provides supportive housing and holistic recovery services to people struggling to overcome their addictions. Kerner, the executive director, said he was grateful for city officials’ support of recovery programs like the Opportunity House.

“It’s phenomenal to live and work in a community that mourns our losses and celebrates our successes with us,” Kerner said. “I often say that recovery happens more often in community than in isolation. That applies as much to our larger external community as it does to our recovery community.

“Today, as we remember the friends we have lost to overdose, we also celebrate the knowledge that addiction doesn’t have to end in jails, institutions or death. Recovery is possible.”

Kerner also said methamphetamine addiction is a growing problem, and that just a recent decrease in overdose deaths due to opioids doesn’t mean the addiction crisis is solved.

“The pendulum has swung from opioids back to meth, and I hope people don’t see a drop in overdose deaths and think the problem is solved because it’s just changing form,” Kerner said. “As meth use increases, we will see an increase in the transmission of blood-borne disease, prolonged suffering of families, increasing levels of property crimes and other things that come with the changing nature of the drugs used.”

Anyone struggling with addiction or mental health issues can find someone to talk to and a host of resources on the state of West Virginia’s Help4WV website, www.help4wv.com. A crisis response line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week; access help by calling 1-844-HELP4WV, texting 844-435-7498 or chatting online with a support specialist.

If you think you or someone you know may have overdosed, please seek immediate medical help by dialing 9-1-1.

Featured

SHOPS & SERVICES

Commission, Upshur Schools to consider partnership to resurface tennis courts at county Recreational Park

BUCKHANNON – Members of the Upshur County Board of Education did not appear to find any ‘fault’ with a proposal to resurface the tennis courts located near Buckhannon-Upshur High School. In fact, the group spoke favorably about the plan served […]

Become a premium member to unlock immediate access to this story — and thousands more. Free trial available! Signing up is easy — just tap the button below.

Fish Hawk Acres invites the community to events in December

BUCKHANNON – Mark your calendar: Fish Hawk Acres will offer several exciting events this month. Experience the fun and fine dining of Fish Hawk Acres through their Wine Clubs, Market Dinners and other special events.

SHOPS & SERVICES

Three Lady Bucs earn Big 10 All-Conference postseason volleyball honors

TENNERTON – Three Buckhannon-Upshur Lady Bucs were honored on the recently announced Big 10 All-Conference Volleyball team. Senior Kendal Currence earned First Team honors while sophomore Alyssa Abel and senior Tori Perkins were named to the Second Team. The Lady […]

Become a premium member to unlock immediate access to this story — and thousands more. Free trial available! Signing up is easy — just tap the button below.

Upshur County Sports Calendar

MONDAY (Nov. 28) TUESDAY (Nov. 29) Basketball WEDNESDAY (Nov. 30) Basketball Swimming THURSDAY (Dec. 1) Basketball FRIDAY (Dec. 2) Basketball SATURDAY (Dec. 3) Basketball Swimming Wrestling SUNDAY (Dec. 4)

WVWC Volleyball

Volleyball Lady ‘Cats get shutout of MEC postseason honors

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. – The Mountain East Conference announced its 2022 volleyball all-conference teams and major award winners. Wheeling setter Karly Niesen was voted the Mountain East Conference Player of the Year in 2022, while West Liberty

SHOPS & SERVICES

DHHR announces reporting structure changes and hiring freeze

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Bill J. Crouch, Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), today announced additional changes as a result of the organizational study of DHHR by the McChrystal

Turnpike traffic exceeds estimates early Thanksgiving week

CHARLESTON, WV – Traffic on the West Virginia Turnpike was heavier than expected the first two days of the Thanksgiving travel week. From Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, through Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, 721,114 vehicles passed