International Overdose Awareness Day Vigil to Honor Lives Lost to Overdose

Sioux Falls, SD – On Thursday, August 31st, the Sioux Falls community will gather at the Greenway Amphitheater at 7:30 p.m. to commemorate International Overdose Awareness Day. The event, organized by Emily’s Hope, Helpline, Face It Together, SE Prevention Resource Center, Volunteers of America, Dakotas and the Sioux Falls City Health Department, aims to raise awareness about the staggering impact of overdose deaths and advocate for change.

According to the CDC, a record nearly 110,000 people tragically lost their lives to overdose in 2022 alone. This alarming figure represents the urgent need for collective action and support for those affected by addiction. With an average of 300 lives lost daily to overdose in the United States, it is vital that we come together to address this crisis.

The candlelight vigil will be held at the picturesque Greenway Amphitheater, situated in downtown Sioux Falls below Cherapa Place and the iconic Arc of Dreams. In solidarity with the global event, the Arc of Dreams will be bathed in vibrant purple, the symbolic color of International Overdose Awareness Day. The emcee for the event is Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken and guest speakers include Sioux Falls Police Chief Jon Thum, Narcan training by Dr. Melissa Dittberner, Tish Kalla, who lost her son to fentanyl poisoning, and addiction medicine physician, Dr. Hannah Statz DeVries.

During the vigil, attendees will have the opportunity to listen to the courageous stories of families who have experienced the heart-wrenching loss of a loved one to addiction. Their narratives will serve as a poignant reminder of the devastating impact that substance use disorder and fentanyl can have on individuals and their families. Through sharing these stories, we aim to raise awareness, eliminate stigma, and foster empathy and support within our community.

The event will also provide valuable information on how to seek help and support for those struggling with addiction. Understanding the available resources and pathways to assistance is vital in addressing this crisis effectively. We aspire to guide anyone seeking to make a difference, whether by seeking treatment, supporting a loved one, or getting involved in advocacy and prevention efforts.

Please join us on August 31st at 7:30 p.m. CDT at the Greenway Amphitheater as we unite to honor and remember those who have lost their lives to overdose. Together, we can create a compassionate and supportive community that helps prevent future tragedies and supports individuals on their journey to recovery.

Editor/Producer Note:

Angela Kennecke, CEO and Founder of Emily’s Hope, is available for interviews to discuss the overdose epidemic. Angela has been featured on NBC Nightly News, ABC World News Tonight, CBS This Morning, NewsNation, and dozens of other national outlets.

Over the last decade as a journalist, Angela focused many of her stories on the growing opioid crisis. Tragically, her 21-year-old daughter, Emily, died of a fentanyl overdose. In the wake of this personal loss, Angela has taken Emily’s story nationwide and even internationally. She speaks tirelessly about the issues surrounding opioid addiction, a parent’s frustration, and a sense of helplessness, all from the perspective of a mother who has lost her child.

About Emily’s Hope

Emily’s Hope is a non-profit organization dedicated to removing the stigma of substance use disorder through awareness, education, and prevention; and removing financial barriers for treatment and recovery. Founded by Angela Kennecke in memory of her daughter Emily, Emily’s Hope has helped more than 200 people enter recovery and has developed a prevention education curriculum for students K-12.