Written by: Kyle Schalow
Spiritual warfare? Always something right? If it can it will, April and I woke up early Friday May 2nd to get a head start on any last minute details. April- get the kids to school, me to the shelter house and laying out the Memorial.
Typical North West Ohio weather for early spring. And according to Blizzard Bill all was good. Mid to upper 50’s partly cloudy and breezy. Did I mention BREEZY!
An early start turned into chasing bottles all around the park, and if you can imagine, clenched fist, looking up to sky, at the top of my lungs in my head “why God why”!
Trying to arrange something with the Memorial has always had its challenges. It is pain staking process, labor of love and very quickly becoming a National symbol of the tragedy that has spread across the state of Ohio and Nation. I’ve always looked at this project and initiative as art too. Every time we recreate it for display we love seeing people stop and pause and say to themselves or us “what is that” or “I’ve never seen something like this before” my favorite as I was on my knees laying it out last October in front of Joshua Generation, as passer by strolls along with his head phones on “Now that is saying something”. But it really is a National Memorial we are hoping to place in the National archives.
The volunteers who bend over or get on their knees with us and help arrange, that is literally and tangibly the place where “community comes together”.
It’s pretty humbling to do my part in carrying a message for so many. Once we have someone donates bottles from Alaska and Hawaii all 50 states will be represented. We have received messages, stories and eulogies from as far as Africa, India, Switzerland, England, Canada and Australia. Actually our friend Jessica Moujalli from Sydny went to the trouble of sending some snail mail to us for the event. In our opinion that makes Ohio Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness and Education day an International day of Observance.
We like to be outside when we recreate. Luckily we had enough space and time to drop tables and move chairs that Springfield Township had so carefully had placed for us. Accept the clock was ticking and at 9am not a bottle was in place! Realistically to show all 13,000 bottles it would take all of 10 hours with a team of volunteers.
While speculating if was going to look like anything a group of volunteers from Penta Career Center showed, the main center piece of “Faith, Hope and Love” was created by I think 4 or 5 high school seniors. Back to outside and the greeting image. “Ohio May 2nd 2014” we weighted down the bottles with water and defeated the wind! April and myself with a team of 4 volunteers pulled it together just as Dave Zapotosky arrived from the Blade to snap photos. The outline of the state was an after thought.
Before I realized it noon was here and I was welcoming Bill Geha and Americas Pride Toledo which had a stellar performance that finished 20 minutes ahead of schedule. Itinerary just went out the door! Two of our speakers weren’t in sight Scott Sylak Executive Director Board of Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Lucas County and Ohio Senator Edna Brown. Could you see the sweat on my brow?
It was really a day of solutions be thrown around. Brenda Alcock and Larry Voderburg gave testimony. Andy Glenn, Springfield Township Trustee made sure everyone was welcome. Lucas County Commissioner Carol Contrada who gave opening remarks spoke painted a clear picture of how her office was in tune with what is going on in Lucas county. Tina Wozniak made her office available. Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp our key note speaker showed that he is approachable and out in the community. We had 2 walk on speakers Carol Pelow and Kay from Celebrate Recovery. Sylak came in through the back door just as Kay was starting to speak. He shared a glimpse of his personal life and how the opioid/heroin epidemic had touched his family. His office has so much coming to Lucas County right now and next year, I didn’t catch it all. Real solutions from real people.
We had stalled it all the way to the 2pm time slot and just minutes after I gave some brief closing remarks, In walked Senator Brown, my stomach sank. And with grace and charm she laughed about it with me for a moment. She made it. She took time to meet her constituents and posed with me for a quick photo. The best part of it, she was the only one who I heard all day stop and say “what are all those bottles about”? You made my day Senator Brown.
Kyle Schalow is the CEO of RX Epidemic Foundation, for more information please reach him via Facebook