‘Light the Way for Hope’ event highlights 259 lives taken by overdoses in 2020

Local News

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – On Tuesday, Mount Pleasant is lighting the way for hope for a third consecutive year to draw awareness to the opioid epidemic and the overdoses it causes.

The ‘Light the Way for Hope’ event on Tuesday night highlighted the 259 lives lost to substance abuse in the Tri-county in 2020 and educated the public on how to prevent more from occurring.

Survivors and loved ones of those lost spoke during the event, each sharing how the opioid epidemic had impacted them. Some told stories of sadness and others, like Greg, shared messages of hope:

“There is someone not only willing to help, but [who] wants to. I am one of those people. WakeUp Carolina, Charleston Center, and Mount Pleasant Police Department were all here to support me. That’s community and that’s hope.”  

Greg, overdose survivor

Nanci Steadman Shipman, the founder of WakeUp Carolina says the fight against the opioid epidemic is personal to her, and it should be to the community as well, as the disease does not favor one person over another.

Steadman Shipman who lost her son Creighton to substance abuse in the summer of 2016 says when it comes to those affected, “it’s someone’s son like mine—Creighton, it’s someone’s wife, it’s somebody’s sister, your neighbor, it doesn’t discriminate”.

Every single loss is a life.  

Nanci Steadman Shipman, WakeUp Carolina 

Steadman Shipman says with fentanyl now in the mix of most street drugs and the pandemic continuing, deaths have increased and awareness about substance abuse is needed more than ever. 

The community will be able to learn how to use Narcan—a life-saving inhalant that Inspector Don Calabrese says has been used 4 times this year by officers with the Mount Pleasant Police Department (MPPD).  

Inspector Don Calabrese with the Mount Pleasant Police Department says when it comes to the opioid crisis, it’s a whole community approach. He says it can’t just be the police department that is trying to arrest people, or the Charleston Center trying to provide treatment or Wake Up Carolina trying to bring awareness. 

If this was something where someone struggles and they wanted to will it better, wanted to will themselves better, wanted to make themselves better, we wouldn’t have this crisis, this is something that this is a medical crisis.  

Nanci Steadman Shipman, WakeUp Carolina 

Steadman Shipman says that ultimately anyone can save a life, and while many may not be personally touched by substance abuse, most of the people she trains for Narcan will be used on complete strangers. 

For more on Narcan training and obtaining a free overdose reversal drug, click here.

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