It’s one of the rare occasions an annual event isn’t celebrated but remains necessary.
The sixth annual HERO-HELPS Southwest Coalition Community Summit is scheduled for 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Friday at the Edward Hospital Athletic and Event Center, 55 Phelps Ave. in Romeoville. Its goal is to raise awareness, fight the heroin and opioid epidemic in the county, and ultimately save lives.
Coming off a year when Will County experienced a record 77 heroin and opioid overdose deaths, 2017’s event is titled “On The Front Line: A Community Summit on the Heroin/Opioid Crisis.”
The state of Illinois has identified six counties on the front line in the fight to end the heroin and opioid epidemic. Participants from Will, DuPage, Lake and Cook counties will be speaking about the efforts in their respective counties.
There will be a panel discussion about options to expand and support the initiatives various counties are using to help deter prescription opioid abuse, which often leads to heroin abuse when prescriptions run out.
Prescription opioids, heroin and fentanyl claimed at least 1,000 lives in northeastern Illinois last year, according to the Will County Executive’s Office.
It’s not just a local problem. Heroin and opioid abuse now kills more Americans annually than gun homicides or traffic accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Last year’s event in Romeoville had more than 300 attendees and provided updates on state and federal laws, among other things.
On Wednesday, HERO, which stands for Heroin Epidemic Relief Organization, will unveil a “Hidden in Plain Sight” trailer at the New Lenox Police Department, 200 Veterans Parkway. The trailer will then make its first public appearance Friday at the summit.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: HERO-HELPS Southwest Coalition Community Summit
WHEN: 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Friday
WHERE: Edward Hospital Athletic and Event Center, 55 Phelps Ave., Romeoville