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Hope Over Heroin plans September rally for Rowan and Cabarrus

Founded in Ohio

KANNAPOLIS – A rally coming up Sept. 7-8 is geared toward helping people fight the opioid crisis in Rowan and Cabarrus counties — be they users, recovering addicts, families who have been hurt by the epidemic or community members who want to help. 

Dubbed Hope Over Heroin, the rally will bring together speakers, musical groups, a BMX biker group, addiction resources and more at Village Park in Kannapolis, according to planning team member Stephanie Adams.

Adams is a member of River of Life Church in Kannapolis, whose pastor, Brian Rabon, heard about the Hope Over Heroin nonprofit group from a fellow pastor in Kentucky. Adams and three others attended a Hope Over Heroin rally in Ohio last year and came back and hit the ground running to plan a similar rally for Rowan and Cabarrus.

The missing link in many discussions about battling addiction has been “the hope we have in Jesus Christ,” Adams said.

River of Life Church members were interested because their congregation included some individuals in recovery, as well as families who have lost someone to a fatal overdose, Adams said.

Last fall, Cabarrus was No. 1 among the state’s 100 counties in heroin overdoses, and Rowan was not far behind. Opioid overdoses reported by Cabarrus County EMS rose from 163 in 2016 to 581 in 2017.

Openly talking about the community’s opioid problem does not fit local marketing and branding strategies, Adams said. But several community organizations have signed on.

So far, Adams said, 17 to 20 churches are supporting the rally. Organizers are also calling on local businesses, government, other organizations and individuals to help make this a communitywide effort. Sandhills Adult & Teen Challenge in Kannapolis and Cabarrus Health Alliance are among those who have agreed to partner in the event.

Adams said organizers would especially like to get more involvement in Rowan County. The rally is a good chance for local government and faith-based organizations to work together on a critical issue, she said.

A meeting for community leaders and pastors will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Kannapolis Train Station. The next meeting will be at 10 a.m. July 16, also at the train station.

The local Hope Over Heroin weekend will kick off at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 7 with a prayer and memorial march honoring those lost to addiction in this region.

A variety of activities will follow, including stunts by a BMX group and live music by area Christian rock bands: Decyfer Down, Set for the Fall and Relentless Flood.

The evening will culminate with a call to action for those seeking help and connecting them with the appropriate resources based on their needs. Saturday evening will include free backpacks given to the first 100 children in attendance.

The rally is free to the public and includes food and beverages both nights.

For more information, visit hopeoverheroin.com/rowan-cabarrus/ or email nchopeoverheroin@gmail.com.

A nondenominational, faith-based group, Hope Over Heroin was formed in 2014 by a group of Cincinnati pastors who felt compelled to do something after 14 heroin overdoses in one week in Hamilton County, Ohio. Since then, more than 78,000 people have attended its rallies, with more than 5,000 people aligned with addiction recovery resources.

Hope Over Heroin’s outreach events unite churches, business and civic leaders and the City of Resources, a tented area filled with dozens of addiction recovery resources.

Rosalie Canfield, director of operations at Hope Over Heroin, says the organization brings together faith-based and non-faith-based addiction recovery services at one location to help those seeking recovery.

“Churches can play a critical role in recovery and providing a long-term system of support both during and after a person is in recovery,” Canfield said. “They are represented at each event and are at the core of our mission fulfillment.”

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