SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Addiction is a disease that many people have felt personally, whether it’s themselves or a loved one battling it.
Today, hundreds rode through Sioux Falls in honor of one non-profit organization that sets out to help those struggling.
In 2017, KELOLAND’s Angela Kennecke helped Gene Coyle receive a Purple Heart for his service in the Korean War.
His son, Kenny Coyle, was so moved by her investigative story that he wanted to help her with Emily’s Hope.
“He came to me and said, ‘your story helped my father so much, I want to give back and help you and help your cause and help Emily’s Hope,'” KELOLAND’S Angela Kennecke said.
Kennecke started Emily’s Hope in honor of her daughter, Emily, who passed away from fentanyl poisoning. The charity seeks to spread awareness about the opioid epidemic, help pay for treatment, and fight the stigma that comes with addiction.
Kenny Coyle says the motorcycle community does a great job of giving back, so he thought a poker run would be a good idea for a benefit.
“The cause is very important because it’s a terrible thing, a scourge in our communities, in Sioux Falls and surrounding communities. Young people, not just young people, a lot of people are dying from this and something needs to be done. We need to take it out of the closet basically so people will seek help,” Kenny Coyle said.
All of the money raised from the poker run will go towards a scholarship fund that will offset the cost of treatment for those in need.
“So whether they have insurance or don’t, whether their insurance only covers part of the treatment. If they need help with their lights or help with their rent, Emily’s Hope will be helping to cover some of those costs so we can get more people into treatment so fewer people have to die. Because right now, the drugs on the street are deadly and we need people to get into recovery and to get well and to get healed and that’s our main goal,” Kennecke said.
A group of women riders known as the Diva Angel’s also came out in full force today to support Emily’s Hope.
“Most of us our moms, most of us know or have somebody in our families that have suffered the effects of opioid abuse and it’s not the people that you ever think it is. In fact, one of our Diva Angels is a counselor for addiction. It happens to everybody, whether they know it or not, it’s happening. We want to put awareness to it and hopefully help it to stop and help those that are in the wake of it,” Diva Angel Ruth White said.
Four hundred signed up for the poker run today.
“Everyone has been touched by addiction. I don’t think there is a single family or person out there who hasn’t been touched by this issue, this very real disease in one way or the other,” Kennecke said.
Emily’s Hope has held more than twenty events since 2018 to raise awareness and end the stigma surrounding addiction.