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Dozens attend vigil and walk for overdose awareness
John Sprow was a heroin addict for five years.
Now, the York City resident lives in his own apartment and is a manager at a Five Guys burger shop. Sprow, who has been sober for a year now, recalled his parents asking him why he couldn't just stop taking heroin.
"I said, 'I wish it was that easy,'" he recalled.
Sprow recounted his journey to sobriety to dozens of people who came out to The Bob Glatfelter Memorial Walk and Overdose Awareness Vigil at York College’s gravel track on Saturday afternoon. .
After several attempts at rehabilitation, Sprow was eventually sent to jail by his parole officer, which Sprow credited as the push he needed to get clean.
"I said, 'I know I don't have to do that anymore,'" he told the audience.
Spreading the word: Vickie Glatfelter, whose son Bob Glatfelter died in 2014 from an overdose, helped organize the event with other members of Not One More York. Glatfelter co-founded the York chapter.
Glatfelter said she was sad that so many people were affected by overdoses, but she was also happy the people could come together and see they're not alone. She and other members of Not One More York were giving out pamphlets with information to assist potential addicts, including information on recovery houses.
"People don't realize what's here to help," Glatfelter said.
Alyssa Rohrbaugh, another co-founder of the organization, estimated there are roughly 80 to 100 recovery houses in York County.
"Recovery houses get such a bad rap ... but they're here for a reason," Glatfelter said, adding many of those in recovery houses are just coming out of rehab or jail.
"That's the most crucial time of their lives," she said.
Glatfelter also emphasized that Narcan, which can be administered to reverse the effects of an overdose, may be obtained through Not One More York.
Understanding: Sprow was one of many in attendance affected by heroin and overdoses. Many held signs or wore shirts bearing the faces and names of the loved ones lost. After Sprow spoke, the names of loved ones lost to overdose were read, and balloons were released in their honor.
Allison Klunk, of East Manchester Township, wore a shirt that said "Love the addict, hate the disease," with a picture of her son Justin Klunk on it. He died in October 2015 of an overdose at age 29.
Klunk said the event was a good way to promote awareness. She said it helps dispel the idea of "junkies," where the addicts are looked down on.
"It really helps to heal your heart," she said of the number of people in attendance. Klunk said a lot of families affected by overdoses connect to each other and help.
"For me, it's just the understanding, really," she said.
Among those who walked was York County Coroner Pam Gay, who is also a member of the York County Heroin Task Force. She commended the event and the awareness it was bringing but said heroin addiction is still an epidemic and there is still work to be done to prevent it.
"I think it's things like this you realize you're not alone," she said. "And in some ways, empowers people."
More information on Not One More York may be found at www.notonemoreyorkpa.org.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.