Over the past five years, drug addiction has claimed the lives of more than 4,500 Philadelphians. Since that time, many selfless people in the community have created ways to help those in the thralls of addiction, whether it be Angels in Motion, Prevention Point or the city’s Resilience Project, which seeks to improve the conditions of the neighborhoods most affected by the opioid epidemic. While River Wards residents Maureen Dugan, her sister-in-law Sylvia Dugan, Kathy Taylor and Brian White commend the work being done by these organizations, they all had a slightly different idea: help the children affected by the opioid epidemic.
“It really all started out as a vision for how we could help the children who are impacted,” said Sylvia Dugan. “We know there’s an epidemic going on and we wanted to find a way to do our part.”
Together, the group formed a nonprofit called the Pink Elephant Movement. The organization’s mission “is to give support to children and families who have been affected by addiction.”
The founders of the Pink Elephant Movement show their support for these children financially in a variety of different ways. It could be paying for a child’s sports or daycare camp, funding a child’s tuition, or even providing them with presents from their very own wishlist at the movement’s annual Sunday with Santa event.
“I would say that the Pink Elephant is the answer to many people’s prayers,” said Taylor. “I say that because there are a lot of families that have been torn apart. The families are left to clean up the wreckage and that includes the children who are left behind. When a parent goes either missing on the street or in jail or in treatment or just MIA, their kids are left in the care of random people.”
Oftentimes, those people are the child’s grandparents who in many cases did not expect to be raising kids at their age.
According to Dugan, families have put on golf tournaments and beef and beers in an effort to raise money for the Pink Elephant Movement.
“It touches so many different avenues,” she said. “It’s hard to say in one word, but we’re an organization who wants to uplift our community for the betterment of our future and our children.”
Two families were even provided with a trip to Disney World thanks to the movement, according to Dugan.
But, of course, helping the children affected by the opioid epidemic is expensive. To help raise money, the event holds the Pink Movement 5K every October. This year’s event is happening on Oct. 5, starting and ending at Cione Recreation Center.
“We wanted to start in our own backyards so we figured why not run in Kensington and Fishtown and Port Richmond,” said Maureen Dugan. It costs $40 to register for the event on the day of the race, but $35 if you do so beforehand. The entire 5K, which is now in its fourth year, takes place in the River Wards. Starting from Cione, runners will run northwest on Lehigh Avenue, then make a left onto Kensington Avenue, another left onto Front Street, then go from Norris to Susquehanna to Thompson to York to Aramingo before arriving back at Cione. Every year along Aramingo Avenue right before the finish line, a memorial is set up for for those who lost their lives to opioid addiction. So far, 194 people have been submitted to take place in this year’s memorial, which is almost double last year’s total of 100.
“The memorial is to lift that shame label and try to remember them who their parents remember them as,” said Maureen Dugan.
To register for the event, visit the 4th Annual 5K Run/1 Mile Walk/Kids Fun Run Facebook event page.