This past weekend, hundreds of activists, organizations and families gathered on Freedom Plaza in Washington D.C. for the sixth annual FED UP! Rally. Just over a month after cities across the country unified by holding local FED UP! Rallies on August 31st, International Overdose Awareness Day, a weekend of events commenced October 6 and 7 to bring awareness to yet another year of increased opioid overdose deaths and a continued lack of response from our Federal government.
The weekend kicked off Saturday evening with the ARTful advocacy event. Authors, painters, musicians, photographers and filmmakers, all of whom illuminate the grief of our communities and the hope of recovery, displayed their work and networked with patrons.
The following morning, supporters gathered on the steps of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian museum, protesting the Sackler family’s wealth made from their flagship product, OxyContin, a powerful opioid responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans.
The Rally took place later that afternoon on Freedom Plaza with a lineup of speakers, live music, and exhibitor tables. Speakers this year included:
- April Rovero, National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse
- Andrew Kolodny, MD, Physicains for Responsible Prescribing
- Dan Busch, MD, StopDrugDeath.com
- Janice Weiss, Hear My Roar
- Ryan Hampton, The Voices Project
- Cheryl Juaire, Team Sharing, Inc.
- Beverly Buncher, Family Recovery Resources, LLC
- Vance Johnson, Futures Recovery Healthcare
- Shelly Elkington, Steve Rummler HOPE Network
- Sue Van Steen, The Addict’s Mom
- Judy Rummler, Steve Rummler HOPE Network
- Greg Williams, Facing Addiction
We were proud to provide another year of sponsorship and leadership in planning this year’s event. Our founder, Judy Rummler, has been chair of the FED UP! Coalition since its inception and we are delighted to have served by her side for over half a decade leading national advocacy efforts to move the Federal government towards an immediate response to the opioid crisis. Our very own board member, Shelly Elkington, gave a powerful speech, explaining the culpability of the pharmaceutical companies’ malicious practices which ultimately lead to the death of her daughter. Igniting the crowd, she moved the audience to rally and march to the White House where we demanded billions of dollars be paid back to communities by the pharmaceutical industry. The event closed with a beutiful memorial and candelight vigil.