WEIRTON - Hundreds came together in Weirton Saturday morning to help spread a message on an issue which affects millions.
The Never Alone/Dare to Prevent awareness walk brought area residents together, wearing red and working to bring awareness to the drug problem in the Ohio Valley.
The event was organized by the members of Never Alone and Dare to Prevent, two organizations created to bring awareness to drug addiction in the Tri-State Area and finding ways to provide support for those affected by addiction.
hundreds walk for drug awareness
Patti Barnabei, one of the founders of Never Alone, explained the mission was inspired, in part, through the experiences of her daughter who lost a friend to drug addiction two years ago.
An additional push came while walking at Weir High School one day and she began listening to the song "Never Alone" by Jim Brickman and Sara Evans, giving the group a name.
"Our goal is to let people in need know they are never alone," Barnabei said.
Hundreds walked along Main Street in Weirton Saturday morning to help spread the message for Never Alone and Dare to Prevent. -- Craig Howell
Patti Barnabei, of Never Alone, and James Keller, of Dare to Prevent, welcomed those in attendance to the walk and fundraiser Saturday morning. Both organizations are working together to help raise awareness about drug abuse and addiction in the area. -- Craig Howell
B.E. Taylor, right, and Rick Witkowski were among those performing following the walk. Saturday's event featured a variety of musical entertainment and other attractions for those in attendance. -- Craig Howell
Working to get interest from the community, Barnabei said she eventually was put in touch with Healthways, which allowed the group to use their meeting room for organizing the event.
"I called, and that is where a big door was opened," she said.
James Keller, of Dare to Prevent, said he was astounded by the turnout Saturday, explaining he has been trying to work on a drug awareness campaign for many years and often was discouraged.
"I was told for 13 years this would never happen," he said. "This is the beginning of something big."
Keller said everyone at the event either has been affected directly by addiction, or knows someone who has,
"That's what it's all about; taking a stand," Keller said.
Barnabei said they are working to form a support group for families and friends of those who have been addicted to drugs, and eventually would like to open a treatment and counseling center.
As part of the event, participants started in the Municipal Plaza parking lot and walked along Cove Road before turning south onto Main Street. The march traveled through downtown before turning around at Gus's Goodies and walking north.
They stopped on the steps of the Weirton City Building for a moment of silence and prayer.
Following the walk, a variety of entertainment, food, vendors and informational booths were available.
Musical performances included the Weir High and Oak Glen High bands, B.E. Taylor and Rick Witkowski, Iron Skillet, Silent Messengers, NFI, Illusions 4, Verdict, Descendsion and others.
(Howell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)