Fourth annual Walk Against Heroin Saturday to offer hope, resources for recovery

The fourth annual Walk Against Heroin will be held noon-4 p.m. Saturday at City Park in Parkersburg. Here walkers in the second year of the event walk the ceremonial lap around City Park as a memorial for those who have died from addiction. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — Shay Dunn met Rich Walters two years ago at the Walk Against Heroin at City Park.

The couple had a tie that bound them. They are recovering addicts of drugs and alcohol who turned their lives around and are getting married in February.

Before that, Dunn and Walters are organizing the fourth annual Walk Against Heroin from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at the horseshoe pit at City Park. The event was originally created by Justin and Janifer Stukey, who are still involved in the walk.

The free event includes a lap around City Park as a memorial for family and friends who have lost someone they loved to addiction, Walters said.

While the event is a remembrance of those who have suffered or died from addiction, the thrust of the Walk Against Heroin is to show addicts they are not alone, that there is hope and help is available, he said. Numerous agencies offering counseling and recovery services will have exhibits and counselors at the event, Walters said.

Organizers Rich Walters and Shay Dunn of the fourth annual Walk Against Heroin on Saturday at City Park met at the second annual walk two years ago and are getting married in February. The walk will be held noon-4 p.m. at the horseshoe pit at City Park. (Photo by Jess Mancini)

“We’ll show them where there is help,” Walters said.

A free scholarship will be given away for treatment at a recovery and treatment center in Florida, Walters said.

“They have to show up and say ‘I’m willing to go,'” he said.

The event organizes at noon at the horseshoe pit where the walk begins and ends, Walters said. There is no registration for the memorial walk or the activities, he said.

“Just show up,” Walters said.

Rich Walters stands in the foreground with arms outstretched at the second annual Walk Against Heroin. The fourth annual walk will be held noon-4 p.m. Saturday at the horseshoe pit in City Park. Everything is free. (Photo Provided)

A person suffering from addiction, or their friends and family, who need help can call Walters at 304 916-4342.

Walters anticipates more than a thousand people will participate in the event.

Numerous speakers are planned, many of those being recovering addicts who will tell their stories, Walters said.

Speakers include Rocky Meadows, who runs Life House for recovering addicts in Huntington, and Pastor Randy Baker of Akron, who is with the Warrior’s Project, an organization helping people in recovery. City and county officials are expected at the event, including Wood County Sheriff Steve Stephens.

“A lot of recovering addicts will be speaking,” Walters said.

Entertainment will be provided by Back Porch Alibi, a band from Parkersburg. Picnic food will be provided by Momma T and the Warriors, a local mission and outreach group, Walters said.

Among the participating agencies are the St. Joseph’s Recovery Center, the Mid-Ohio Valley Fellowship Home, Marietta Municipal Court, Harmony Ridge Recovery Center, Genesis Treatment and Amity Treatment Center.

Dunn, who works for the Marietta Municipal Court, runs From Prison to Purpose, a support organization for recovery.

She was sober for two years when she attended her first Walk Against Heroin two years ago.

“I realized there was a community of amazing people who are also in recovery,” she said.

Walters, sober since April 28, 2014, and Dunn first met at the event two years ago.

“I was two years sober my first time there,’ Dunn said. “It has inspired me to do more.”

Jess Mancini can be reached at jmancini@newsandsentinel.com.