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Steuben County to hold Black Balloon Day to honor those lost to overdoses

Steuben County is set to commemorate International Black Balloon Day, dedicating March 6 to honor those lost to overdose deaths and to intensify efforts against the ongoing overdose epidemic. The Steuben Prevention Coalition highlights a concerning rise in overdose incidents, with 14 fatalities in 2023 up from 12 in 2022, and an increase in opioid overdoses to 348 from 290. The county, which has yet to record an overdose death in 2024, aims to maintain this trend through heightened awareness and preventive measures.

The Steuben Opioid Prevention Committee emphasizes the critical need for enhanced recovery services, prevention funding, and harm reduction initiatives in the county. Program Coordinator Connie Terry voiced the urgency of addressing the drug crisis that continues to impact local communities deeply. In response, the county plans to distribute black balloons across the region and encourages residents to participate by displaying balloons at their homes, symbolizing the lives lost to overdoses.

The observance of Black Balloon Day, rooted in the memory of Greg Tremblay who died from an overdose in 2015, will see various activities including a virtual balloon release by the Steuben Prevention Coalition. Corning Community College will engage students through informational booths and outreach to local businesses, spreading the message of hope and action. Through these efforts, Steuben County aims to bring the community together in remembrance and to foster a united front against the drug overdose crisis.