Candlelight Vigil to be Held in Cortland to Remember Those Lost to Overdose

(Photo Source: Unsplash)

Press release from Healing Cortland.

This year is the 20th anniversary of International Overdose Awareness Day. With over half a million people dying as a result of drug use annually, it has never been more important. Here in Cortland County, we have felt this sad reality.

In honor of families and friends in our community that have lost someone due to a drug overdose, Prevention Network of CNY, Healing Hearts Collaborative, & Healing Cortland are hosting a candlelight vigil on International Overdose Awareness Day – Tuesday, August 31st. The event will be held at 7PM at Courthouse Park.

The event will be an hour long, and will include various speakers, some of whom have lost loved ones to opioid overdose themselves here in Cortland County. There will also be a vigil and candle lighting ceremony to honor those who have been lost.

Volunteers have collected over 290 pairs of shoes, thanks to an outpouring of community support. The group’s goal was to collect 256 shoes in recognition of the number of people lost to drug overdose each day in the US. Last week, the CDC released new numbers showing that in 2020, on average 256 people died from drug overdoses each day in the US. This represents an almost 30% increase from 2019. The majority are opioid-related. All collected shoes will be displayed at the event and then will be donated to the Cortland County Community Action Program's clothing closet after the event.

We will also be displaying at least 13 portraits of local families and/or individuals who have lost someone to overdose. This art project is the culmination of three photo shoots carried out here in Cortland County by photographer Zack Bolton. These large print-outs will be on display at the event.

As we mourn those who have been lost, we also strive to increase education about opioid overdose and strategies to save lives. To learn more about Healing Cortland, visit

For more information, contact Dean O’Gorman, Healing Hearts Collaborative & Advisory Board Member for Healing Cortland, [email protected] or (607)283-6378