America’s Most Wanted's John Walsh Shows Support For Hometown Anti-Heroin League

By Victoria Kim 07/13/16

Walsh spoke to those affected by heroin addiction at an Auburn, New York, fundraiser organized by the Heroin Epidemic Action League.

America’s Most Wanted's John Walsh Shows Support For Hometown Anti-Heroin League
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Veteran TV host and producer John Walsh returned to his hometown to lend his support to local efforts to address the heroin crisis. Walsh, the host of the long-running TV show America’s Most Wanted, attended a fundraiser in Auburn on Saturday, where he spoke in front of families and loved ones from Cayuga County who have been affected by heroin addiction.

“You look at these people, they’re hurting just like I was when I lost my son,” Walsh told TWC News, referring to his son Adam who was abducted and murdered in 1981. “They’re heartbroken but they’re trying to do something. Auburn is a great town. Look at the turnout.”

The fundraiser, organized by the Heroin Epidemic Action League (HEAL), was attended by around 200 people. Organizers told TWC that they hoped to raise $10,000 to have a detox or crisis center in Cayuga County.

Locals say there’s a gap in treatment for people seeking help for a heroin problem. “We don’t have any help here in Cayuga County,” HEAL board member JoLynn Mulholland told TWC. “When somebody needs help with addiction there’s nothing here. They have to go elsewhere, Pennsylvania, other states. And then most of the time, they’re put on a waiting list.”

Walsh, an Auburn native, said it’s becoming harder to get any help from the government, but that lawmakers will ultimately have to answer to constituents. “When the constituents say, ‘I’ve had enough, I want you to do something,’ that’ll get their attention,” he said.

HEAL has demonstrated some impressive grassroots organizing since it was established in the fall of 2015. What began as a single Facebook post decrying the lack of action on the heroin crisis, is now an active community organization that offers free Narcan training, lobbies Congressmen, and holds weekly support meetings.

HEAL secretary and board member Lisa Ryan was there when it all began. “I started posting things about heroin, and then one week after my decision to break my silence, I saw a post of a friend who lost her daughter to heroin overdose,” Ryan told The Fix via email. “Her post said, enough is enough. We need to do something. Too many kids are dying.” 

The rest is history. That evening, Ryan created the Heroin Awareness Cayuga County Facebook page and began spreading the word.  

Saturday’s fundraiser was one of several events HEAL has hosted, in addition to a Heroin Awareness Walk in October, which attracted more than 300 attendees, and candlelight vigils. 

“We have come together as parents, family members and friends to say my loved one was lost to heroin, or my loved one is suffering from heroin addiction, and I am NOT ashamed,” Ryan told The Fix. “We cannot lost anymore people to this horrible disease.”

“I believe the community as a whole has been changed since HEAL’s conception as we knock down the barriers of silence and shame,” she added.

Find out more about the Heroin Epidemic Action League on their website.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr