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Overdose Lifeline Raises $24k for Overdose Prevention Programs and Resources at Annual Freedom to Rise Breakfast Fundraiser

On April 25th, Overdose Lifeline (ODL) held its annual Freedom to Rise breakfast fundraiser to bring together the local community in support of those experiencing substance use disorder. The central theme of the event was the importance of unity, community, and the possibility of true recovery when reinforced by support and hope. ODL originally had a fundraising goal of $20,000 but was able to successfully raise $24,000 for overdose prevention programs thanks to the generosity of the local community.

A Gathering of Like-Minded Community Partners

Rachael Wilkerson, WRTV reporter, led the event for approximately 200 community partners in attendance, including some who have supported ODL’s programs from the beginning:

  • Dr. Victoria Garcia Wilburn, Assistant Professor in Indiana University’s occupational therapy program
  • Dr. Leah Van Antwerp, Clinical Assistant Professor in IU’s occupational therapy program
  • Lauren Rodriguez, Esq., keynote speaker and Deputy Mayor of Public Health and Safety for the City of Indianapolis
  • Douglas Huntsinger, Executive Director for Drug Prevention, Treatment, and Enforcement (Next Level Recovery) and Chairman of the Indiana Commission to Combat Substance Use Disorder

Justin Phillips, CEO and Founder of ODL, was introduced to a standing ovation as USA Today’s Women of the Year for Indiana and White House Champion for Change for Advocacy. Phillips then addressed the crowd with powerful remarks on how ODL continues to adapt to the needs and gaps recognized in the community. It’s this continued regard for aiding the community that led to the start of both the Heart Rock Recovery Center, where women and children get groundbreaking support, and Camp Mariposa-Aaron’s Place, which provides free addiction and drug prevention programs to children aged 9-12. 

Lauren Rodriguez gave the keynote address, remarking on the city’s efforts to combat local opioid overdoses. She said that the city’s partnership with ODL is invaluable with respect to providing resources, education, and programs geared toward overdose prevention. 

Douglas Huntsinger also spoke at the event, highlighting the fact that overdose deaths in Indiana were down in 2023. He attributed the decrease in overdose deaths to ODL’s network and getting 24,000 doses of life-saving naloxone per month into the hands of the end-user. Huntsinger also noted that he often gets asked in meetings with other states how Indiana handles its substance use disorder management, to which he relates the state’s success to the ODL models used to educate people statewide. 

Building Upon the Success of ODL Programs

With the help of the community, ODL can continue to develop these resources and provide more assistance to those struggling with substance use disorders. The success of the Freedom to Rise fundraiser proves that the entire Indiana community can rally behind a common goal of leading people to lifesaving treatments so they, too, can find recovery. No one can find recovery if they aren’t alive, so ODL will forge on in helping people respond to overdoses so they can have a fighting chance. 

Some donations were made in memory and honor of others. These include the following event donations:

Dominique Battles in memory/honor of James “Jimmie” Williams
Neil McGuffog in memory/honor of Aaron Sims & Guy Justus
Tamara Jo Justus-Dallman in memory/honor of Babette & Guy Justus
Patti & Tom Dean in memory/honor of Aaron
Pete Malloy in memory/honor of Scott Hall
Mary Jo Eppink in memory/honor of Joey Eppink
Lesley Farner with Lisa Price in memory/honor of Lyndsey Alyssa Reffitt
Roberta Mueller in memory/honor of her mother, who died from an overdose in 1986
Kristi Carney in memory/honor of Billy
Dave Sims in memory/honor of Aaron Sims
Jason & Jennifer Kimmell in memory/honor of Zach Decker

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