Hundreds of race participants and supporters of all ages joined the Chester County Commissioners and representatives from the District Attorney’s Office in Everhart Park in West Chester on Saturday morning, October 9, to run, walk and cheer-on participants in the Chester County Color 5K.
The annual event, initiated by Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline in 2016, raises funds to combat the opioid and heroin crisis in Chester County. Over four years, the Color 5K raised $160,000 for the County’s Community Outreach Prevention and Education (COPE) program that is addressing many aspects of substance use disorder. It is anticipated that a further $30,000 will be raised because of Saturday’s fifth Color 5K event.
The COPE program provides 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week emergency room support for overdose survivors and their families at all hospitals in Chester County. The program also provides overdose prevention information and outreach to first responders, hospital staff, family members and friends. Importantly, COPE provides expedite admission into detox and a review of all treatment options for overdose survivors who agree to treatment.
In her comments before the start of the Color 5K, Commissioner Michelle Kichline said, “Since it began, the COPE team has successfully engaged with 97 percent of overdose survivors in our emergency rooms – individuals ranging in age from 14 to 76 – and through those engagements, over 380 people who experienced an overdose have been personally helped with treatment.
“The pandemic may have moved the spotlight away from the opioid and heroin crisis, but it certainly has not gone away. In fact, over the months of June, July and August, we have had more people referred to COPE team members since the start of the program.”
Many organizations that support drug & alcohol information and recovery services in Chester County set up displays in Everhart Park and offered information and advice. A supply of the medication Naloxone was also available to those requesting it.
Color blasters heralded the start of the Chester County Color 5K and color stations along the route doused participants with brightly colored cornstarch.
“Events like the Color 5K are bittersweet,” added Commissioner Kichline. “We are all here to have fun and to raise awareness and money, but at the same time, we reflect on the senselessness of beautiful lives lost to addiction, and the tremendous struggles of those who continue to battle substance use disorder.”