OCEAN CITY – A new event aims to raise addiction awareness by honoring those who are in recovery and commemorating lives lost to the disease.
On Sunday, Sept. 16, the national organization The Addict’s Mom will present Lights of Hope at Sunset Park in Ocean City. The event, which runs from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., will feature guest speakers, resource displays and a candle lighting ceremony.
“The addiction epidemic’s not getting any better,” said Brian Shofi, one of the event’s organizers. “It’s gotten out of control. Every one of us has been touched by addiction whether we know it or not.”
The Addict’s Mom is a national organization that aims to raise addiction awareness and provide support for the families of those battling addiction. Though the group has hosted Lights of Hope events throughout the United States in the past, this will be the first scheduled in Maryland. Ruthie Chavis, Shofi’s wife, spearheaded the effort to bring Lights of Hope to Maryland. She, Shofi and volunteer Judy Kisly have spent the past several months planning the event.
“We feel it’s necessary to get out there and give resources to those who may need support,” Shofi said.
At Sunday’s event, speakers will include Toni Torsch, director of the Daniel Carl Torsch Foundation, as well as Cory Hassett and Jessica Jeffrey of the Representing Freedom Center.
Area residents Tony Christ and Wanda Gray will also talk about how their families have been impacted by addiction. Delegate Mary Beth Carozza and Senator Jim Mathias are expected to attend the ceremony as well. In addition, attendees can take part in inspirational rock painting. Musician Chino Rankin will provide entertainment and several organizations will have resource tables set up throughout the park to share information.
“If we can affect even one or two people we’ve made a difference,” Shofi said. “We hope we make some connections.”
While Lights of Hope begins at 4:30 p.m., the candle lighting ceremony is set for 7 p.m. after a prayer from Father Stanislao Esposito of Holy Savior Catholic Church.
“We’re encouraging anybody who comes to honor a loved one to bring a framed photo with them to display,” Shofi said.
Shofi said organizers were grateful to local sponsor Harborside Bar and Grill as well as the Boardwalk Hotel Group for providing attendees with discounted rates at the Days Inn. While he’s hopeful weather will not impact the event, he says it will be held indoors if necessary. Updates will be provided on the Ocean City MD Lights of Hope page.