Candlelight vigil honors those lost to drug overdose (video & photos included)

Candlelight vigil in Cortland honors those lost to drug overdose. (Photo Source: Kevin L. Smith/Cortland Voice).

Over 100 community members gathered at Courthouse Park Tuesday evening to honor the loved ones they have lost to drug overdose.

In the 20th year of International Overdose Awareness Day, Healing Hearts Collaborative & Healing Cortland hosted their first annual candlelight vigil for family and friends to pay a tribute to their loved ones.

“Our hope for tonight is that you find peace in your grief, some calmness and honor for your loved one that’s been lost to such a horrible disease,” said event organizer Dean O’Gorman.

O’Gorman added, “Each one of us knows this isn’t an easy journey that we’re on, and also a journey we didn’t ask to be on. We’ll take comfort in remembering the wonderful people they were.”

Below is a video of the candlelight vigil ceremony at Courthouse Park on Tuesday. Assemblywoman Anna Kelles (D-Ithaca) spoke on her support for fighting addiction and preventing overdose death.

A variety of community members also spoke at the event. Kayla Smith read a poem on behalf of her mother who died of a drug overdose, and Karlen Shafer -- who lost her daughter as well to an overdose.

Valerie Partridge, a peer specialist and in active recovery, shared her story on her battle with drug addiction.

Here is a video and some photos of the candlelight vigil: