Powerful messages filled the gymnasium as students heard from parents who lost children to overdoses as well as a survivor who shared her story of hope. On National Fentanyl Awareness Day, Pinellas County Job Corps held a special assembly to reinforce just how deadly drugs can be.
Large photos of drug overdose victims were the backdrop for speakers who warned students that any drug use can be deadly, even the first time. Dealers are putting fentanyl into other drugs. Holding a packet of sugar, Lori Serra told the audience that, if this packet contained fentanyl, it would be enough to kill 500 people. Serra lost her 28-year-old son Matthew to prescription drugs.
Mark Rudolph shared how his honor roll student with a dream to be a pilot went from experimenting with Vicodin to using heroine and ultimately losing his life at just 18 years old. And Sergeant Dan Lafey showed a photo of his friend Mark, who is now 47 years old and living in a nursing home because of drug abuse. Sergeant Lafey spoke of the many deaths he has to investigate that are a result of drug abuse, showing the students an urn for ashes and noting that he did not want this to happen to any of them.
The final speaker at the Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education event was Kim Gordon, a survivor who was able to turn her life around. At age 60, she just graduated from nursing school. Gordon told the students that they gave her hope, hope that they wouldn’t waste years of their lives like she once did. Anyone can make positive changes at any time.