Pottsville Drug Awareness Day is personal for many in the wake of national drug epidemic

Former NFL player, Vance Johnson, embraces a Pottsville resident at the first "Drug Awareness Day" at Barefield Park.

Losing a loved one to substance is as personal as it can get, when dealing with the national drug epidemic. However, Corey McCabe is not letting that stop him from living his purpose.

11 months ago, he began his recovery journey, leaving behind heroin and alcohol. Since then, he has made it his mission to "give away what was so freely given" to him: another chance.

McCabe began planning Saturday's Drug Awareness Day back in May. A month later his young daughter, Brieze, died of a drug overdose.

"When Brieze died [on] June 11th, this become real personal," McCabe said.

The event featured several resources for people in recovery.

"That's what makes it so nice for me," Billy Evans said, "people that can relate."

Hundreds came to support their loved ones and to remember those they have lost. For many, the wounds are still fresh.

"We lost our brother June 30th, this year to a heroin overdose," Tara Ellex said, "we're hoping we can reach out to the ones we're still losing and try and save, even if it's one person,"

Former NFL Wide Receiver, Vance Johnson was among the rally's speakers. He played in three Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos in the 1980's, but says substance abuse disorder does not discriminate.

"We don't grow up wanting to be addicts...I'm here to break stigma and say it's time to get our heads out of the sand and start getting educated," Johnson said.

McCabe is proud of the turnout for Saturday's event, but he also acknowledges that his work is only getting started.

"This is the community. They spoke. We presented them with a message and they showed up to want to hear it."

For more information about McCabe's non-profit, Alive 2Day, check out their website.

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