Somerville, MA – Almost immediately after their son Ryan’s death, the Harrington family felt compelled to channel all of their love for Ryan and the insurmountable pain of losing him into something positive for the community. “When we lost Ryan we were broken, we still are, but life keeps moving and so we must too, in a positive way for ourselves and for Ryan” said Ryan’s father Dave Harrington.
In just three years the Ryan Harrington Foundation has donated $45,000 to the youth of Somerville. The donations assist Somerville youth with everything from new uniforms for football cheerleaders to sending under privileged children to summer camp.
On June 3rd the Ryan Harrington Foundation is hosting “A Night of Hope and Awareness”. The event is free and open to the public. The event will take place at 6:00 p.m. in the Somerville High gymnasium. Speakers will include former Celtic Chris Herren of The Herren project. Dr Sarah Wakeman Medical Director for Substance Use Disorders at MGH, who also sat on the Governor’s Opioid Working group , will speak about the stigma of addiction. Joanne Peterson of Learn to Cope will speak about resources and support for families with members that are struggling with addiction. There will be experiences shared from people in long-term recovery such as local residents Kim Costa, of college student interloper youtube rant fame and poet Matthew Ganem. Steven Piro will speak about his experience with his two sons that battled addiction who are now both in recovery. There will also be live performances by local youth.
“We hope this program will serve to educate people on the the entire spectrum of addiction as well as open some minds,” Cathy Harrington said about the event. “We want to give people struggling hope and let them know recovery is possible”
This is the first large event on the topic of substance abuse prevention for the Harrington Foundation. Like many families that have lost a child to addiction, until recently, it was just too painful to speak publically about Ryan’s death to an opioid overdose. The Harrington’s wanted to remember all of the good times and make positive changes for the community in the name of their son who by all accounts was one of the nicest kids you’d ever meet. It wasn’t until last year when the fever pitch of media reports on the rising number of overdose deaths and the Governor declared opiate addiction a public health crisis in Massachusetts that they had their coming out of sorts. “We just couldn’t stand on the sidelines as other parents lost their children to this deadly disease.” said Dave Harrington. The Harrington’s reached out to some friends and started getting involved. Attending state house hearings, doing street outreach in Boston, and planning an event of their own.
“If we reach one family and help them realize that they are not alone and there is a community to reach out to when it comes to struggling with heroin addiction we will already be making a difference” Cathy Harrington commented.
In addition to the speakers and resources available, the Cambridge Needle Exchange will in attendance to provide free Narcan kits.