CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio — The opioid epidemic continues to hit our country hard, causing more than 47,000 overdoses in 2017.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, only one state—West Virginia—had a higher rate of deaths due to drug overdoses than Ohio.
Now, one Summit County mom is making a plea to lawmakers to help those left picking up the pieces.
“She loved fishing. She was a beautiful person. She was so brave. She was a mother, a daughter, a sister,” Brenda Ryan said about her daughter, Sheena Moore.
Tragically, Moore’s life was cut short.
“My daughter was 31-years-old when she passed away, she passed away June 9, 2016. And she had a lot of years of sobriety, and she slipped back in to her addiction, and she died from her first and only overdose,” Ryan said.
Sheena’s absence not only leaves a void in her mother’s life, but also her then five year old son Wyatt’s.
“I raise him and have joint custody of her little boy,” Ryan said.
While she still mourned Sheena, Ryan said she wanted to do something more, so she started Keys to Serenity, helping families impacted by addiction.
Saturday was its second annual Kids’ Fest.
“I wanted to do a day to give back to these kids and just show them a day of love, connect them with other kids so they know that they're not in this alone,” Ryan said.
She’s not stopping there. According to Generations United , more than 2.6 million children across the country are raised by grandparents or other family members and experts say that number is increasing because of the opioid epidemic.
Ryan is heading to Washington, D.C. in September to speak at the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus to talk specifically about the needs of grandparents raising their grandchildren.
Last year to address that issue, Congress passed the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act , creating a federal task force to help grandfamilies navigate the school system, plan for their futures, and address mental health issues.
But Ryan says more help is needed.
“We get no money, we need help. These grandparents need help, so I want to try to get some direct funding for these grandparents. That's my ultimate goal,” Ryan said.
Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan is the one leading the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus. It's scheduled for September 19.