‘Our kids are dying’

Vigil in Vermilion for victims of drug and alcohol abuse.
Andy Ouriel
Oct 1, 2013


Each tiny flame flickering Monday night in Victory Park symbolized a different significance for about 100 people attending a candlelight vigil.

For Bryan Hunkley, his light represented survival.

See more photos of the vigil HERE

Kathy Loos’ candle, meanwhile, embodied recovery, as her two sons are still battling their personal demons. And Melva Sherwood’s flame burned brightly for her son, Andrew Weaver, who died a year ago from a heroin overdose.

Want help?
Let’s Get Real, a new information and referral community center, helps families and loved ones afflicted with addiction in their journey to recover. 
Contact them by:
• Calling 440-963-0147
• Visiting 5541 Liberty Ave. in Vermilion

Dubbed Lights of Hope, the event’s organizers wanted local residents to know about how rampant drug addiction issues are in small communities such as Vermillion.

Organizers asked people light three candles: one each for someone who died, is recovering and living with an addiction.

Representatives from various organizations also attended to provide referrals to help people conquer their problems.

“Our kids are dying,” said Sherwood, the event’s main organizer. “We need to help people that are addicts so they can recover. They’re not criminals. They’re not the pits of our society. They are human beings, and they need to be treated as such.”    Sherwood is planning to implant a multi-tiered grassroots effort to combat addiction isuses.

She wants to open a community center, where family members of addicts can meet up and receive help or vent about someone they love who’s suffering from an addiction.

Sherwood is also planning to campaign to politicians and march sometime soon in Washington, D.C. She wants lawmakers to redirect resources specifically for helping addicts recover.

“They can go over to Syria and spend money there but ignore the issues that are going on at home?” Sherwood said. “To me, there is a terrorist attack here, and it’s a sneaky one. Drugs are coming from Mexico and Afghanistan, and we need to have more ways to stop it.”

SOLACE — a nonprofit organization standing for Surviving Our Loss And Communities Everyday — formed 18 months ago not to stop drug addiction but to help those impacted by it cope.

Twice a month, about 15 group members meet to provide support and listen to one another’s struggles in knowing — and loving — someone battling an addition.

“If we are keeping it quiet and a secret, then you could end up being affected by it without realizing it,” Loos said. “We do a lot of selfcare for ourselves. We have yoga and relaxation exercise. We’re in stressful situations.”

Hunkley, too, understands stress.

So much so that he almost killed himself. “I was addicted to alcohol, heroin, crack, cocaine, meth, you name it,” Hunkley said. “I was just normal as any kid, and I never though it would be destructive. But a pill here and a joint there, it just continued to escalate, and the next thing I know I was a heroin addict.”

Hunkley was fortunate. He became sober after entering a 12-step program.

Some of his friends weren’t. At least one died from a drug overdose.

His advice for anyone battling a disease: get help — and do so immediately.

“If you are a using addict, you need to talk to someone who is a recovering addict,” said Hunkley, who’s been six years sober and is now employed as a union sheet metal worker in Cleveland. “The rehab will only dry you out for a bit. You need to get involved in a program.”


red white and blue

I couldn't agree more with this story this country needs help make the doc. In this town accountable for giving out pills.

Licorice Schtick

"They’re not criminals. They’re not the pits of our society. They are human beings, and they need to be treated as such."

Wrong, sometimes, and true.

Let me know when there's a vigil for the victims of the "victims."

J. Hartman

I agree as well red white and blue! I attended this event last night along with Jeannie Brandt from Robby's Voice. I was very glad to see the young lady wearing the dress take the mic and speak to the crowd and more so she directly addressed her age group. It's horrible that it takes tragedy to bring folks together, but sometimes that has to happen for folks to realize and understand this affects every single one of us! Education is the key, but becoming educated in the facts has little meaning unless others are willing to put forth the actions. As Rob Brandt would say "Break the Silence" and speak out and help those who need it. Some people will call it being nosy and some will call it being a snitch, but in my eyes it's called LOVE! Don't be afraid to ask the tough questions, don't be afraid to reach out for assistance, and definitely don't think it can't happen to you or anyone in your family! If a loved one is in this type of situation, remind them and reassure them that they are loved! People hate the drug, not the person and that is important to stress as well. Anyways, I spoke to Andy for a few moments last night and I am very glad this article made the headline story, because it truly affects all of us in one form or another! Hopefully SR will do more articles on how people can seek help in the future. I would encourage you red white and blue to join us(Sandusky Crime Prevention Council) on October 22 at the State Theater for our drug summit "Clear Vision". It's free admission, doors open at 5:30 and the event starts at 6pm. Robby's Voice will lead off by giving a personal testimony of how heroin has changed their lives forever. Following their testimony, we have a panel consisting of Dr. Halliday, Karen Russell, Joey Supina, Peter Schade, Det. Les Peters, Judge Binette, and Judge Delamatre. They will be discussing the drug issue from their points of view and give suggestions on how the community can help combat this issue. We obviously won't solve the problem on that evening, but hope people walk away a little better prepared if they face this situation and I pray it saves at least one life and one family from going through the devastation of losing a loved one. Please join us and please bring a friend! Any questions, I can be reached at 330-221-3090 S.M.I.L.E.


Vermilion has one "l" not two.


Are we talking personal responsibility here ? Is someone forcing these people to take drugs? Are families not talking and taking responsibility for their own children? Why is it the community's responsibility to resolve this issue?


I'm assuming that it's about support, and making it more apparent to what drugs do to you, other than saying "Drugs are bad". We all know drinking underage is bad, speeding is bad, lying is bad, etc. and many people do it anyway. But this community and surrounding communities need to really educate our friends, children, parents even with what the short-term and long-term affects are. I work with people who constantly make bad decisions and have several issues, and they need help. We as responsible adults needs to help those, and show them what being responsible and knowledgable is. Some people need support more than others, and obviously people with life threatening addictions, diseases, illnesses, etc need our support more than ever now.


Why? Because we are human beings and we love and care about one another.


Where are the drugs coming from? The pharmaceutical companies.

They are drugging our people. These drugs are highly addictive.

If the DEA wanted to stop this, stop it at the manufacturing distribution center. We should be asking ourselves why aren't they.


Why? Big Profits. $$$$ Millions of dollars of Bonuses and perks.

Many parents would rather have their kids drugged up zombies than put up with "hyperactive" behavior. Instead of finding healthier more natural remedies to find a better balance it's easier to feed the kid a pill.

So really, it starts at home.



J. Hartman

No secret some doctors are careless when it comes to writing prescriptions and opiates are a huge problem. Also no secret, pills mean $$$ and unfortunately $$$ comes before the truth or the well being of the patient for some. My opinion, a few of these doctors/dealers get hit with a murder charge or at least contributing to a death, you MIGHT see some changes.


Prayer for healing goes out to family and friends!! The disease of addiction is progressive and fatal!! Don't wait, get help now!! www.step-interventions.com


EDO, I agree with you, completely. We also need to stop getting meds for EVERYTHING! There are a lot of home remedies that can be used rather than scripts to cure things. Also the way we live, being healthier and taking better care of ourselves and our children.

The Answer Person

they just need more guns.