Thousands of balloons will be launched over Courthouse Square in Dayton again this Sunday at the annual Families of Addicts Rally 4 Recovery. Yellow balloons represent people in successful recovery, red are for those still struggling with addiction, white are to remember those that have died from addiction, and green are for those in mental health recovery. CONTRIBUTED/SHELBY LOGAN

Big crowd expected at rally to combat addiction

Families of Addicts has annual Courthouse Square event to celebrate recovery.

Upwards of 3,000 people are expected on Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton Sunday for the Families of Addicts’ fifth annual Rally 4 Recovery.

The free event is intended to destigmatize addiction, celebrate recovery, demonstrate how many local families are impacted, and mobilize the community to pursue solutions, organizers said.

Last year’s rally drew about 2,500 people, said FOA founder Lori Erion, and she expects up to 1,000 more attendees this year.

“I am amazed at the excitement in the air about our event,” she said. “FOA is definitely making history in eliminating the stigma of addiction every year we do this.”

One of Sunday’s keynote speakers is Ryan Hampton, founder of The Voices Project whose new book, “American Fix — Inside the Opioid Addiction Crisis and How to End It” published by St. Martin’s Press, is being released this month. The book will be available for purchase at the rally.

“Dayton is a very special place to me. I’ve spent a lot of time there,” Hampton said. “I think FOA and what’s happening in Dayton is a model for the country.”

Hampton said Dayton is leading the way and changing the narrative around addiction. He hopes his speech will inspire people here to keep that work going.

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“What can (the recovery community) be doing beyond just telling our stories?” he said. “We’re voters, we’re taxpayers, we’re employers. We have purchasing power. There’s a lot we can do when we leave that rally.”

Brandon Novak, professional skateboarder and celebrity featured in MTV’s Jackass movies, will also give a keynote speech. His new graphic novel The Brandon Novak Chronicles,” which chronicles his years as a heroin addict, will also be available for sale at the event.

Along with local broadcast veteran Dan Edwards, this year’s emcee is Scotty Mays, a local stand-up comic who is in long-term recovery.

The rally runs from 3 to 6 p.m. and will also feature a balloon launch, raffle drawings, food trucks, face painting, more than 60 resource booths and the “Big Pic,” an annual photo of all attendees.

Free Narcan training will be offered before and after the rally this year. The training sessions will be held at The Collaboratory, on Courthouse Square between CVS and Key Bank.

GET HELP: Opioid addiction resource guide

Participants will receive training on recognizing the signs and symptoms of overdose, distinguishing between different types of overdose, performing rescue breathing, calling emergency medical services, and administering Narcan nasal spray.

Each participant will leave with a prescribed dose of Narcan.

Families of Addicts’ goal is to raise $50,000 from the event.

The money supports the group’s year-round efforts to help families dealing with addiction, connect people to resources and treatment and reduce stigma in the community.

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