Over 700 people joined the Chester County Commissioners and the District Attorney in Exton Park on Saturday morning, October 8, to run, walk and cheer on participants of the sixth annual Chester County Color 5K.
The event, initiated by Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline in 2016, raises funds to combat the opioid and heroin crisis in Chester County. Over five years, the Color 5K raised nearly $200,000 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 $85,000 will be raised this year, due to generous sponsorship support, led by the Color 5K presenting sponsor John R. Gailey III and JoEllen Berger Charitable Fund.
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 expedited 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 98 percent of overdose survivors in our emergency rooms – individuals ranging in age from 14 to 76 – and through those engagements, over 880 people who experienced an overdose have been personally helped with treatment.”
Many organizations that support drug & alcohol information and recovery services in Chester County set up displays in Exton 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 as she addressed the Saturday morning crowd. “We are all here to enjoy the race and to raise awareness and money, but at the same time, we reflect on the senselessness of 101 beautiful lives lost to addiction in 2021, and the tremendous struggles of those who continue to battle substance use disorder.
“We will continue to do everything we can to fight this dreadful disease.”