Opioid Epidemic and Its Impact

Students Part of Congressional Briefing
Posted on 09/24/2019
Image of Congressman Tim Ryan(from the office of Congressman Tim Ryan (D-13)

Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13), Co-Chair of the Addiction, Treatment & Recovery Caucus, hosted a panel discussion on the opioid epidemic and its impact on students in Ohio. Panelists include members from Rachel’s Angels in Northeast Ohio, Akron Public Schools and Keys to Serenity Foundation located in Summit Country.

“The opioid epidemic has ravaged too many lives, families and communities in Ohio and across the country. Nearly 5,000 Ohioans die from opioid overdoses each year – it’s a staggering statistic that shows the grim reality in our state. Unfortunately, our students have not been immune from this crisis either,” said Congressman Ryan. “It’s why we have organizations like Rachel’s Angels, Keys to Serenity Foundation and Akron Public Schools that are doing important work to educate our students on the dangers of opioid abuse. But they cannot do it alone. Every level of government needs to step up and work together to tackle this problem, and we need to ensure our students, organizations and communities have the tools and resources to combat this epidemic.”

“Dealing with the absolute tragedy of Rachel's murder/ 'accidental overdose.' It has been a complete nightmare. But we have turned tragedy into triumph in her name to educate and save teens everywhere. Rachel’s message is alive,” said Cindy DeMaio, Founder of Rachel’s Angels and mother of Rachel DeMaio.

“We’re turning grief into advocacy by proving support to grieving families and children affected by substance abuse. My daughter Sheena would not want us to cry; she would want us to fight,” said Brenda Ryan, Founder of Keys to Serenity and mother of Sheena Moore.

"Education is always charged with social challenges. Therefore, we need to support grassroots organizations such as Rachel’s Angels who empower teens as our developing future leaders. We need the state and federal government to fund more tools in their toolbox to change lives,” said Katrina Halasa, PhD, Akron Public Schools, Science and Health K-12 Learning Specialist.

Rachel's Angels is a non-profit organization founded by Cindy DeMaio to continue the legacy of her daughter Rachel. Their group of parents and teens conduct presentations at schools, clubs, and other organizations who are eager to impact children’s decisions when they are faced with drug experimentation.

Keys to Serenity Foundation is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping children and families affected by the opioid epidemic in Summit County, Ohio. Founded by Brenda Ryan after the death of her daughter Sheena Moore, this organization helps families after the loss of a loved one due to an overdose by helping them navigate the judicial system, juvenile court, children services and memorial arrangements.

Akron Public Schools is located in Akron, Ohio, in the northeastern part of the state. It is the fifth largest district in Ohio with approximately 22,000 students enrolled.

Panelists include:
  • Congressman Tim Ryan, Co-Chair of the Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus
  • Cindy DeMaio, Founder of Rachel’s Angels; Mother of Rachel DeMaio
  • Brenda Ryan, Founder of Keys to Serenity; Mother of Sheena Moore
  • Karen Weber, Vice President of Rachel’s Angels; Educator for 30 years at Hudson City Schools; Assistant Principal of Hudson Middle Schools
  • Katrina Halasa, Ph.D., Educator for 24 years, Akron Public Schools
  • Audrey Sepko, Center for Cognition and Recovery
  • Zeeba Mercer: Center for Cognition and Recovery
  • Rachel’s Angels: Friends of Rachel DeMaio continuing her legacy

Image of Congressman Tim Ryan

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