The third Leah’s Light 5K Walk/Run for overdose awareness will take place Aug. 28 at Red Deer’s Kiwanis Picnic Park. (Advocate file photo)

The third Leah’s Light 5K Walk/Run for overdose awareness will take place Aug. 28 at Red Deer’s Kiwanis Picnic Park. (Advocate file photo)

Leah’s Light 5K Run/Walk for overdose awareness returns to Red Deer

The third annual Leah’s Light 5K Walk/Run for Overdose Awareness will return to Red Deer later this month.

The event will be held at Kiwanis Picnic Park on Aug. 28, to raise awareness and support overdose prevention programming within central Alberta.

Last year was recorded as the deadliest year for opioid fatalities, with about 90 Albertan lives lost each month to overdose, according to the Government of Alberta.

“Every single one of these deaths is preventable,” said Ashley Balan, Leah’s Light organizer.

“Nobody wants to talk about overdose, but we need to start talking about it. … Maybe starting that conversation will save someone’s life.”

In January 2018, Balan’s younger sister, Leah, died as a result of an accidental overdose. Soon after, Balan connected with Turning Point and Moms Stop the Harm to learn about Alberta’s toxic drug supply and receive training on how to recognize and rapidly reverse an opioid overdose by administering naloxone.

Leah’s Light was created to honour Balan’s sister, support other grieving families and bring greater awareness to the community.

“I believe with greater education and access to barrier-free resources, we can do better,” Balan said.

Turning Point Society is a Red Deer-based non-profit supporting communities and individuals struggling with drug use and addiction.

In addition to operating central Alberta’s only overdose prevention site, Turning Point also supports communities by providing naloxone training and lifesaving programs such as NightReach and Rural Outreach. To support Turning Point’s frontline efforts in battling the opioid crisis every day, 100 per cent of all profits raised through ticket sales and fundraising will go directly to the agency.

Stacey Carmichael, Turning Point executive director, said it’s a “true honour” to work with Balan in raising awareness and funds for overdose prevention services.

“These efforts are needed now more than ever,” Carmichael said.

“I can’t stress how important it is that everyone is equipped with the right information and tools, particularly while we remain in the depths of an overdose crisis.”

There will be a barbecue following this year’s 5K run/walk. Participants will also have access to on-site overdose prevention and naloxone training, offered by Turning Point staff.

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