• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

WCHS students organize opioid epidemic awareness event

Four students at Woodford County High School are hoping to make a difference in their community by bringing more awareness to Central Kentucky’s opioid epidemic at an event Sunday, March 17, from 3 to 6 p.m., in the fellowship hall of Versailles Presbyterian Church.

With the opioid epidemic growing in Kentucky, sophomore Madi O’Daniel said, “We wanted to help prevent that from happening in our county. So we just want to educate everyone (about this epidemic), and do what we can.”

“A lot of people don’t think this is an actual problem,” said sophomore Carla Favetto. “… They think this isn’t going to affect me. This isn’t my problem. But if they come to this, they’ll realize, ‘Hey, this could be me or this could be my friend or my family.’”

The Opioid Epidemic Awareness Event will feature a panel of guest speakers personally involved in the community’s battle against the epidemic, including Woodford County Magistrate Larry Blackford and Jailer Michele Rankin, organizers said.

By having conversations with the event’s panelists, Madi said, “I hope (other people) see how the opioid epidemic is such a large issue and that we really need to take action now before it gets worse.”

Baked goods, including cookies and brownies, with purple awareness ribbons as icing, will also be sold during the event to benefit families with newborn babies fighting neonatal abstinence syndrome at the Ronald McDonald House, Madi said. Proceeds from various other activities at the event will also help babies born with an addiction to drugs, she added.

Carla, Madi, Reagan Cole and Allison Bilbrey organized the Opioid Epidemic Awareness Event as their community awareness project for the state HOSA (future health professionals) competition March 21. The students started organizing the event in August, said Carla, 15.

“We’ve talked to a lot of local people and they’ve all been so helpful,” said Madi, 16. She said several shops were willing to help distribute opioid awareness bracelets and also display flyers promoting the Opioid Epidemic Awareness Event.

Carla and Madi said they did a PSA project on pre-diabetes for last year’s HOSA competition and were encouraged by their advisor, Patricia Fitzpatrick, to organize an event to bring awareness to the opioid epidemic in Central Kentucky this year.

“We’re taking the information that we’ve learned in class,” said Madi, “and applying it to real-world issues. And I think that’s really helpful.”

According to its website, HOSA’s an international student organization with a two-fold mission: to promote career opportunities in the health care industry and to enhance the delivery of quality health care to all people. Carla, whose father is an orthopedic hand surgeon, and Madi, whose father counsels people addicted to drugs and alcohol, both have aspirations to pursue careers in health care, and credit their fathers for providing guidance and support as they helped organize the Opioid Epidemic Awareness Event.

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