Wicomico Goes Purple Holds First Ever Boat Parade and Resource F - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wicomico Goes Purple Holds First Ever Boat Parade and Resource Fair

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SALISBURY, Md. - Businesses in Wicomico County have gone purple, and now some boats have too. 

The awareness program, Wicomico Goes Purple, hosted its first annual boat parade and resource fair Tuesday. Several boats decorated with the color theme made their way down the Wicomico River to the Brew River Restaurant. Vendors also set up at the restaurant to help educate others on the resources available to fight the opioid crisis. The program worked in conjunction with the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce, Wicomico County Sheriff's Office and the Wicomico Yacht Club to put the event together. 

"Going purple is extremely important because it really puts it out there and puts it in the community and to the forefront," says Christina Bowie-Simpson, opioid coordinator with the Wicomico County Health Department.

According to the health department, 36 people died from overdoses in the county in 2018. This year, the Sheriff's Office says there have been 81 overdoses in the county and 15 deaths so far. The health department says those numbers are improving. 

"The state overall has actually seen a reduction in the first quarter of 2019 [compared to 2018], which is the first time they have seen that in quite a while," Bowie-Simpson says.

Organizers with Wicomico Goes Purple say they want to keep the momentum going.

"The whole purpose of Wicomico Goes Purple is it's an awareness campaign," Stephanie Willey, chair of Wicomico Goes Purple, says. "We want to create an awareness about the dangers of substance abuse and that's all types of substance abuse."

They're working hard to educate others, but also erase the stigma that has long surrounded addiction. 

"People make assumptions that just certain types of people can become addicted and that is just not true. It could be your daughter, your son, it could be your next door neighbor. It could be anyone," Willey says.

Events like the boat parade help shine a light on the epidemic, but organizers say it doesn't end there. 

"This is not an issue of down on your luck drug addicts like we watched on television 30 years ago. This is an issue that affects middle America, middle and upper income citizens. They're children," says Bill Chambers, CEO of the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce. "So this doesn't go away after September. This is just one month to highlight what we need to do to really address this issue."

Wicomico Goes Purple holds its next event Friday night. The "Night of Hope" is a prayer vigil that will be held at the Riverwalk Amphitheater.  For a full schedule of events, visit: https://wicomicogoespurple.com/events/

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