“Did you know that per capita Pickens County is the second in the state of South Carolina, only behind Horry County, in opioid fatalities? Last year there were 366 murders in the state of South Carolina, but 616 opioid related fatalities. It’s time that we acknowledge the issue.” County Councilman Chris Bowers stated as part of the Opening Program for the first annual Hands Across the Carolinas 5K Run/Walk. On Saturday October 21, 2017 Steppin’ It Up Coalition hosted the event to bring awareness to the ever-growing opioid epidemic that is sweeping our country.
To begin the program, local musician JK Nick Nichols sang “America the Beautiful.” Following the amazing rendition, remarks were given by Behavioral Health Services of Pickens County’s Executive Director Bob Hiott and Pickens County Councilman Chris Bowers. After the words for Hiott and Bowers, participants moved to the starting line of the race. Runners began with a resounding call to start from Councilman Bowers with those walking starting shortly after. Those participating had the opportunity to walk in memory or honor of someone who had battled a substance use disorder. There were a total of 40 participants in this first event with hopes of more in future events.
Steppin’ It Up Coalition is a recipient of the Drug Free Communities Support Grant, in which funding was received from SAMHSA, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, to help raise awareness about substance use and abuse among our county’s youth. The mission of the Steppin’ It Up Coalition is “to strengthen a generation of youth in Pickens County who are armed with knowledge, motivation, and support to combat the temptations of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.” Steppin’ It Up Coalition wishes to acknowledge community member, Dawn Gilstrap, for her instrumental role in bringing this event to the community. Other similar events were held in North Carolina, bringing our two states together to raise awareness to the communities. Special thanks to sponsor Chris and Kelly’s HOPE Foundation. To learn more about Chris and Kelly’s HOPE, visit chriskellyhope.org. If you or someone you know needs assistance for a substance use disorder, contact Behavioral Health Services of Pickens County at (864)898-5800. For more information about Steppin’ It Up Coalition or how to get involved, visit www.steppinituppickens.org or contact Cathy Breazeale, Project Director at