WEST CHESTER, PA — The 2023 Chester County Color 5K managed to raise $110,000 in support of the local fight against opioid and heroin addiction. The funds will go towards the County’s Community Outreach Prevention and Education (COPE) program, a crucial resource for those battling substance use disorder.
The event took place in October at Exton Park and the Chester Valley Trail. Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell, and Michelle Kichline presented the check to Kate Kinsley, Deputy Director of the County’s Department of Drug & Alcohol Services, at a public meeting.
COPE offers round-the-clock support to overdose survivors and their families across hospital emergency rooms in the county. The program’s trained peer specialists personally connect with survivors in the emergency room, encouraging them to enter treatment immediately after hospital discharge. COPE also provides overdose prevention information to first responders, hospital staff, and families of overdose survivors.
Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline, who spearheaded efforts to address the opioid and heroin epidemic, introduced the Color 5K in 2016. She said, “The Color 5K is one of the proudest accomplishments during my years as commissioner because the money raised has made a real difference in the lives of so many in our community.”
Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Marian Moskowitz highlighted the importance of community support, saying, “It’s quite moving to read all the messages because you realize the pervasiveness of substance use disorders. But thanks to the generosity of many sponsors, including The John Gailey and JoEllen Berger Charitable Fund, the nearly $400,000 collected over the years for Chester County’s highly effective COPE program has directly impacted people in crisis and helped guide them towards treatment.”
Chester County also combats the opioid crisis through its Overdose Prevention Task Force. This group works to prevent overdose deaths through coordinated efforts between government departments, community organizations, and treatment providers.
In 2022, the Chester County District Attorney’s Office and the Department of Drug & Alcohol Services introduced the Law Enforcement Treatment Initiative (LETI). This initiative offers an alternative to punishment for people with substance use disorder who commit low-level, non-violent crimes, encouraging treatment instead.
Help is available for those struggling with a substance use disorder. Call the Drug & Alcohol Information and Referral at 1-866-286-3767 or Get Help Now, a 24/7 hotline, at 1-800-662-4357.
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