LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Banners with hundreds of faces could be seen on the Las Vegas Strip Friday morning.
It’s part of an effort to raise awareness about the opioid epidemic. The walk was organized by parents who lost their kids due to an overdose.
The group started at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign then walked to Aria and back.
Debi Nadler lost her son, Brett. She hopes others will notice the signs of drug addiction before it’s too late.
“This is making the epidemic real, bringing their faces to the forefront,” Nadler said. “It’s almost bittersweet, heartfelt, but it makes us closer because a lot of these women, I just know online. People have flown in from North Carolina, Florida, Reno and Arizona.”
Nadler is one of the organizers. She wanted the walk to be at one of the most visible spots in Las Vegas.
“When you think of Las Vegas, you think of the Welcome to Las Vegas sign,” she said. “And we just wanted to get as much attention to our lost loved ones faces as we could.”
“I’m part of this walk because I lost my daughter,” Darcy Patterson said. The mother from Reno said her daughter Kirsten overdosed on heroin on her 21st birthday.
“My son Tyler passed away last October,” Juli Shamash said. Shamash is from Los Angeles.
“I never in a million years thought my child would overdose and I always thought of a heroin addict as someone on the streets with a needle in their arm,” she said.
They hope other parents don’t have to join this group.
“We’ve all lost our kids and we're fighting to bring awareness,” Nadler said. “We know there's so much stigma and until the stigma goes away, the epidemic is never going to end.”
They agreed the stigma is the biggest problem. But they’d also like to see more mental health education and more access to Narcan, the life-saving drug that can reverse an overdose.
“We wish it would stop but we'll continue to have the banners made,” Nadler said.
They said there’s no fast track to a solution, but this walk is a good start.
“I feel exhilarated, I feel excited. I feel like I'm doing something,” Patterson said.
Seven other states have similar walks planned. The goal is to have every state hold an event like this.
This past legislative session, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a bill that requires opioid prescriptions to be submitted electronically. That will help better monitor prescriptions, possible doctor shopping and fraud. The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2021.