Heroin does not discriminate.
"It doesn't matter how you were raised, how much money you have or what color you are. No one is exempt from being a heroin addict," said York-area resident Luci Fry. "I realized it really is an epidemic and no one is exempt from being a heroin addict."
That warning must get out to everyone, she said.
"I'm interested in getting to the people who don't know about (the heroin epidemic) or who think their kid would never do this," Fry said. "If you're not educated about it, how are you going to (recognize it) in your kids?"
Fry and her friend, Hanover resident Tracy Lawrence, both had family members struggle with heroin addiction.
Upcoming rallies: To raise awareness, they are holding anti-heroin rallies later this month in York City and in Hanover.
Lawrence's group, Hope vs. Heroin, has organized previous awareness rallies, which is how she and Fry met each other.
"She's amazing," Fry said. "I thought York City could use one, too."
Fry and daughter Sara Shaffner are hosting a rally from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 28, at York City's square.
Hope vs. Heroin's rally is from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 14, at Hanover's square.
Lawrence also is holding a picnic on July 19, starting at noon, at Youngs Woods Park, 349 Blooming Grove Road in Penn Township.
"It's for anybody who wants to come out, to bring everyone together outside the rally atmosphere," she said. "I reserved a pavilion and got donations from local businesses."
Family picnic: People can bring a covered dish for themselves or to share, but don't have to, she said. The picnic will be family friendly.
"I'm going to provide drinks and a good bit of the food," Lawrence said. "This is going to be a relaxing day to get together and share some stories."
The rallies and picnic are open to the public and people are encouraged to wear anti-heroin T-shirts or bring signs or posters to the rallies.
People who are struggling with addiction or who have a loved one who is addicted will find support and empathy at the rallies, the women said.
"There will be other parents there who lost kids, and (addicts) in recovery will be there to show recovery is possible," Fry said.
Several members of Fry's family became addicted to prescription opiate painkillers, then switched to heroin when they could no longer afford to buy pills. Her 23-year-old daughter survived "by the grace of God" and has been clean for three years, Fry said.
'World of heroin': Lawrence's son didn't make it.
Aaron Lawrence, the middle of her three sons, died in July 2010 at the age of 20.
"He was a great kid, always smiling, always ready with a joke," Lawrence said. "He got lost in this world of heroin. He did some jail time behind it, but he had minimal treatment while he was in jail. And once he was released, he didn't have any follow-up care in place."
Aaron Lawrence died 12 days after being released, his mother said.
"It was beyond life-changing," she said. "It's been very difficult."
Therapeutic: Tracy Lawrence started Hope vs. Heroin in August 2012 and pays for all expenses out of her own pocket. The June 14 rally will be the fourth one she's organized so far.
"It's part of my therapy for grief, trying to help somebody else, because I know that's what Aaron would have done," she said. "Because he was such a giving person."
York County Coroner Pam Gay said so far in 2014 there have been 20 confirmed heroin-related deaths and five more suspected heroin-related deaths.
For more information about the upcoming events, visit Hope vs. Heroin's Facebook page.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com.