Parents honor son's memory, raise awareness about opioid epidemi - WNEM TV 5

Parents honor son's memory, raise awareness about opioid epidemic

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

They endured what no parent should ever have to face - burying their son.

Now, in the midst of their mourning they are helping raise awareness about the addiction he succumbed to.

A rally and candlelight vigil took place in Bay City's Wenonah Park on Thursday to honor the lives gone too soon from drug overdose.

There were multiple speakers at the event where candles were lit in remembrance. 

The event was put on by the Gillard family who has suffered a great loss.

"There are people that care about these people. They're not just the drugs," Beth Gillard said.

Not a day goes by that she doesn't miss her brother Joshua.

"He was an excellent father, son, grandson, brother. And he left behind three beautiful children," said Amy Gillard, Joshua's mom.

Amy Gillard said her son was found dead inside his car from a drug overdose in March. He was 27-years-old.

"Even though we knew that he has the addiction disease, we didn't know it was to that point," Amy Gillard said.

Joshua's father Greg Gillard said the emotional wound of his loss is still fresh.

"It's never ending. They say time heals all, but I'm still waiting for the time to get here. I feel broken," he said.

The loss has united family members on a personal mission. They call it Jo-Jo's mission and it's their way of reaching out to others in similar situations before it's too late.

"Addiction is a disease and we want families and people who are suffering from this disease to have somewhere to go, to have resources and someone to talk to. Someone who's been through this, walked this road and if we can just help one - that's our mission," Amy Gillard said.

She said if you're someone who is struggling with addiction you are not along. There are resources and people who can help you.

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