SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Drug overdoses’ deadly consequences are a daily reality. The pain of loss and the hope for recovery were both on display during a candlelight vigil on Friday night in downtown Sioux Falls.
The vigil about people’s lives taken and forever impacted by overdoses happened in front of and on the steps of City Hall. The organization Emily’s Hope helping organize; KELOLAND’s Angela Kennecke started Emily’s Hope in the wake of her daughter Emily’s death from fentanyl poisoning.
There’s tremendous emotional power in symbols, and they were all over this vigil Friday night: candles lit against the fading light and shoes and balloons to represent overdoses.
“We think it’s very appropriate that we have empty sets of shoes here because these are the people we’re missing in our community,” Kennecke said.
Melissa Flynn of Sioux Falls lost her stepson Nicholas to a drug overdose in 2018.
“My biggest passion is reducing the stigma, getting people to talk about it, in hopes to get people help and prevent this from happening to other families and to other people,” Flynn said.
Denise Blomberg of Sioux Falls lost her son Ryan to a drug overdose last year, too.
“As a parent, you don’t look forward to talking about your family in the past tense,” Blomberg said. “You don’t think that your children are going to precede you in death.”
The night was about those lost and also those whom we can still save.
“As parents and family and friends of those who’ve lost their lives, we are left with huge holes in our heart, but we are also left with the challenge of trying to make a difference in the lives of others,” Blomberg said. “Even if it’s one person, who’d by telling our story, we can impact their outcome.”
“Let us replace judgment with compassion and punishment with treatment, and remember that these are people’s daughters and sons, mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles and cousins,” Kennecke said. “Let us not forget.”