GALION — Mary Shoup wasn’t certain what kind of crowd to expect at last week’s Take Back Your Community rally in Heise Park.
But when the day ended, she was thrilled with the results.
“This was all about saving lives,” Shoup, of Galion said. “If we saved one life today, this was all worth it.”
The rally, sponsored by Shoup’s group Rally for Hope, drew 50-100 people throughout the day to the bandstand behind the YMCA.
Shoup started Rally for Hope for a single reason.
“I’m tired of seeing people die,” she said.
She has seen three close relatives lose their lives as a result of their addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Shoup also is a recovering addict. And despite the message of Saturday’s rally, which focused on drug addiction and how to get help to fight a drug addiction, Shoup said the mood was upbeat.
“And it was very informative,” she said.
“Some people don’t believe there is a problem in Galion,” she added. “But the people who were at the rally realize there is a problem. They’ve experienced it themselves ,or they know someone who has been addicted or lost someone to an addiction.”
There were speakers and testimonials and information available throughout the rally.
The evening included music and a vigil to remember those who have died or have been affected by substance abuse.
Shoup also said she would have help available on Saturday for anyone who was willing to come to the rally and ask for help.
“We had three people who asked for help,” she said. “And we found help for all of them. One local boy from Galion came up to me. He’s been taking pills since he was in his 20s. He asked for help. I’m taking him to Toledo to get help.”
Another person received a scholarship to a program in California and a third person is headed to an 18-month program in Alabama.
If someone wants help, Shoup will do all she can to make sure they get it. She has developed friendships and contacts with representatives of rehab centers through the United States, including the ones that offered help on Saturday.
“The rally was absolutely a success,” she said. “If you can save one single life, that’s phenomenal. We have a chance to save three. I couldn’t be more satisfied.”
She also said she was successful in raising awareness about drug addiction in Galion and communities like Galion.
“Yes, I think we did that,” she said. “But I’d like to see the entire community take more of an interest. Step up and get involved. This problem is not going to go away by just ignoring it.”
Speakers included Bud Lytel from Chillicothe Police Department, local residents who shared their stories of drug addiction and rehab center representatives.
She also received donations of cash and products from Galion and elsewhere. Her non-profit group Rally for Hope is selling t-shirts. If you’re interested in buying a t-shirt to show your support, call Shoup at 419-689-0695.