CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - More than a hundred people joined together in Cape Girardeau on Saturday to raise awareness about drug abuse and support the recovery process.
A group marched the streets from Main Street to Capaha Park Saturday morning. After the walk they joined together to celebrate and share stories.
The group had lunch at the park as they heard from several speakers about their addiction issues in their families, which include Missouri State Representative Holly Rehder, who talked about addiction that affected her family throughout the years.
Most members of the group, called Living in Recovery, has either dealt with drug abuse or had a friend or loved one go through it.
Their message is simple - they want to become a voice for people, to tell them there is hope for those struggling with addiction.
"We're trying to break the stigma of addiction," Jennifer Sampson said. "People that struggle with addiction are not bad people. We're not. We're good people that struggle."
Many of the participants have seen and dealt with the consequences that have come with drugs. Whether they're 26 years clean or one day clean, they want to let others know there is support and a way to overcome addiction.
"I was happy to turn around and see so many people behind me that were supporting this event and all the people driving by honking and making a big deal out of it," Raychel Griswell said. "It is a huge deal and we are good people."
For many here, it has been a struggle to get from their darkest days to where they are at now.
"What it took for me was [this], I had a sister that died of a heroin overdose in February when I was trying to get sober again," Sampson said. "I'm motivated by that. Very much so."
"I wanted to die," Griswell said. "I was homeless. I was an avid drug user. I lost my kid. I lost my family. My mom never gave up on me but she did at one point have to show tough love because it was insane."
For many, this was not a day of remembering their past but a day of celebration, learning from their mistakes, and the continued pursuit of a better life for themselves and their families.
"There's a ton of support," Griswell added. "Even for those people who aren't blessed with families like I have been, every community has a support system if you just find it."
"I walked many miles in my addiction and today I got to walk in recovery. And that was powerful," Sampson said.
Donations were also collected at this event. Those funds will be used to make the group a not-for-profit group as well as go towards building a drop-in-center for recovering addicts here in Cape Girardeau.