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‘Too many names’ as those lost to drug overdose remembered in Ventnor

Tracy Smith had to take a breath.
“Too many names,” she said, reading from a list of those lost to drug overdoses.
The founder of Speakers for Change — a group inspired by her daughter’s battle with addiction — stood on a stage on the beach behind the Ventnor Community Library reading the names as Mike McGaffney rang a bell after each one.
The event marked International Overdose Day, bringing awareness to the hundreds lost to addiction.
Smith wasn’t sure how many were on her list: “People were calling all day, adding and adding.”
David Johnson brought 10 men from the John Brooks Recovery Center in Atlantic City.
Clean for 10 years himself, he knows the importance of continuing to fight. Hearing the names and hearing from those who have lost loved ones had an impact on the group.
“We got another chance,” said Leslie Cromwell, who has been clean about a year.
“It’s sad,” said Gary Hall. But it was nice to come out and see hope.”
Hall is early in his recovery, with about 45 days clean.
“It’s a struggle,” he said, adding: “John Brooks saved by life.”
Several others agreed.
“And drug court,” added Timothy Crawford.
Four of the men said they had overdosed themselves.
“I was one of the lucky ones,” said Chris Weldon.
He also helped save four people.
“I lost two,” Crawford said.
Thursday night’s event ended with a
“This was a wonderful event,” Weldon said. “It’s good to see people are trying to help stop this epidemic.”

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