Overdose memorial walk Saturday at York College

Margarita Cambest
  • Not One More’s York chapter will host The Bob Glatfelter Memorial Walk and Overdose Awareness vigil at 2 p.m. Saturday at York College's track.
  • The event is held in honor of those who have died from drug overdoses.

With the death of her son in 2014, Vickie Glatfelter was welcomed into a club of grieving mothers she never wanted an invitation to join.

Her 28-year-old son’s cause of death: a fentanyl overdose.

On Saturday, Glatfelter will join Not One More’s York chapter for The Bob Glatfelter Memorial Walk and Overdose Awareness Vigil at York College’s track. The event is held in honor of her son and many others who die each year in the U.S. from drug overdoses.

“We decided to name the event in his honor, but it’s not just to honor him,” she said. “I think it’s important for people to become aware of how prevalent the problem is in our area. They need to understand that this is something that happens, but it is also something that can be prevented.”

Vickie Glatfelter holds her cellphone, which has a picture of her son Bob taken after he took a fatal dose of fentanyl. "When the cops gave me back (his) phone and I flipped it open, that picture was the first thing I saw," she said. She tells her story in a video at yorkdispatch.com.

Overdoses: In Pennsylvania, drug overdose rates are increasing. According to a July report from the DEA, the 2015 statewide drug overdose ratio in Pennsylvania was 26 per 100,000 people — up from 24 in 2014. Of 3,383 drug-related overdose deaths reported last year in Pennsylvania, 99 were in York County.

Heroin is the leading cause of drug overdose in the state. Less costly fentanyl, a prescription opioid used legally to treat severe pain, is second, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most fentanyl-related overdoses are linked to illegally produced fentanyl sold for its “heroin-like effect.”

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Glatfelter co-founded York’s chapter of the nonprofit Not One More in January 2015 to fill a void she says she felt in the community after the death of her son. The national nonprofit’s mission is to educate families about the hazards of heroin and drug abuse and to help those struggling with addiction.

The memorial will include resources for help, three keynote speakers, including Glatfelter and her daughter, and a remembrance ceremony. Those attending the walk are encouraged to bring a poster displaying photos of their loved ones or messages of hope. Lawn chairs or blankets to use for seating during the ceremony also are recommended.

“Sadly, we had to lose so many lives to make this happen, but because this happened, we can give families an opportunity to share and find comfort in each other knowing that they’re not alone,” Glatfelter said.

The free event is open to the public and will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday at York College’s track.