SEASIDE HEIGHTS – We all know the Jersey Shore can come together in times of crisis, and the opioid crisis is no exception.
The 4th Annual Celebration of HOPE Walk drew nearly 2,000 people to the Seaside Heights Boardwalk on September 9, where they joined together to ignite hope into the belief that HOPE Sheds Light, a Toms-River-based nonprofit that educates families on the disease of addiction.
Although the walk was a celebration of recovery, it began with a prayer by Pastor Sue from Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Toms River, as well as opening remarks from Congressman Tom MacArthur, who chairs the Opiate Task Force in Washington, and Freeholders Virginia E. Haines and Joseph H. Vicari.
“We are all equal,” said Freeholder Vicari. “There are no heroes. The biggest job we have to do today is saving our generation from drug addiction. We will win. We will save the lives of our younger people. We will prevail because we have hope and we have love.”
Other speakers at the event included Skylar Josephson, Bruce Corby, Beverly Prima and Alicia Cook. Their inspirational stories and video footage of the walk can be viewed on the HOPE Sheds Light Facebook page.
HOPE Sheds Light was started in 2012 by Ron Rosetto, who holds the issue dear to his heart after losing his son Marc to a battle with substance abuse. Co-founders Arvo Prima and Stephen Willis, as well as other board members and volunteers at the organization, work year-round to support families struggling with substance abuse issues, which have plagued the Jersey Shore in recent years.
“Since the families and friends of those with addiction problems often feel isolated, ashamed, overwhelmed and hopeless, HOPE Sheds Light was created to provide direction, resources and hope toward recovery,” said Rosetto. “We are passionate about helping anyone in need, and we have created this organization to provide those individuals with the resources they need to find hope for a future free from drug addiction.”
Willis acknowledges that there is no one right way to recover – but many. He feels that to be successful in recovery, a person has to want to change and believe that change is possible.
“This is a celebration of recovery,” said co-founder Prima. “We’re always hearing about the negatives of the disease. But by bringing hope and education to the community, we support each other and those affected. Through this walk, we show the community that recovery is possible.”