JOHNSTOWN, CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — The Cambria County Drug Coalition will be holding a memorial service Saturday, August 31 for International Overdose Awareness Day at Point Park in downtown Johnstown.
Cambria County has had 22 overdose deaths so far this year, but Prevention Support Specialist for the coalition, Natalie Kauffman, says that number is down from the 252 deaths since 2016.
The service will feature many events, including comments from keynote speaker and Cambria County Coroner, Jeffrey Lees.
Another thing the coalition is doing to remember those lives lost in creating a quilt. Each quilt has eight panels and each panel represents a loved one. The panels will then combine into a larger 12-foot by 12-foot quilt.
Luminaries will also be lit around the park to commemorate lives, similar to the eternal flame that represents the lives lost in the floods.
The park overlooks a stone bridge that has survived each flood, and Kauffman says there is a connection between the bridge and the overdose epidemic.
“Whenever you think about the lives that were lost during the Johnstown Floods and you think about the lives that were lost due to the opioid epidemic, there’s a little bit of a similarity there. Just as Johnstown recovered from the floods and Cambria County recovered from those circumstances, we truly believe that Cambria County can recover. We want to celebrate that recovery through this event as well as remember the lives that we’ve lost.”
Kauffman also says the event wouldn’t be possible without the help from Schrader’s Fabrics by Barb, Bantly Hardware, Sorceree, The Family Medical Center, The Outhouse, Pennsylvania Recovery Organizations Alliance and the Cambria County Recovery Group.
The event will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Kauffman encourages people to come out to support the community and the families who have lost loved ones. Seating will be limited and Kauffman recommends visitors to bring chairs.