GREENFIELD — Standing on the stage at the Depot Street Park, the family of Tasha Nicole Risco, including her mother and two daughters, fought back tears as they spoke to the crowd gathered for the 8th Annual Recovery Walk. They said Risco, 34, was a good woman who had made real strides in dealing with substance abuse before losing her life June 16.

“She was more than her addiction,” Risco’s mother, Samantha Wagoner said. “She loved with her whole heart.”

Risco and another county resident, Michelle A. Brown, 33, were both honored and remembered during the annual event. This year’s event was held at Depot Street Park for the first time and kicked off with the families sharing memories about their loved ones during Recovery Month.

Mayor Chuck Fewell attends the event each year and also spoke during the ceremonial part of the program. He reminded those in attendance that they are not alone in the fight against substance abuse and addiction.

“We have to keep pursuing this because it’s an epidemic,” Fewell said. “I may not be running for office again, but I want this, what we’ve started, to continue and move on.”

Fewell noted that, due to COVID, those dealing with addiction and substance abuse have also had to deal with developing depression and anxiety issues because of so much isolation.

“That isolation affects people dealing with addiction greatly,” Fewell said. “The disease of addiction doesn’t care who you are or how much money you’ve got, it attacks everyone.”

He was pleased to see so many vendors, 30 different resource tables set up, to offer help for those battling addiction and for their family members who also struggle trying to help loved ones.

Linda Ostewig is the director of The Landing, which offers support to young people struggling with addiction and other problems. The organization hosts the Recovery Walk each year. She noted moving the event from the Courthouse Plaza to Depot Street Park helps the cause.

“Being here with the new amphitheater is a step up and brings our program about recovery up a level,” Ostewig said.

Ostewig noted the importance of continuing to keep the issues of substance abuse and recovery at the forefront.

“If we don’t try to do things like this to break the stigma of substance abuse, we will continue to suffer in our communities,” Ostewig said. “I’m really proud of the grass root efforts of our community people rising up to make a difference.”

Prosecutor Brent Eaton shows up each year to take part in the walk, then allows everyone to target him in the dunk tank. One of his staple statements surrounding addiction is that sobriety is good for public safety.

“It really is and that’s why we want to support these kind of efforts,” Eaton said. “Everyone always thinks this is somebody else’s problem until it is your problem, but no one goes to a career day thinking, I want to be a drug addict.”

Eaton noted the people who are selling the poisons destroying lives will never stop, so the effort to combat the issue and support recovery can’t stop either.

“We gotta get in the game and battle this,” Eaton said.

For the families attending and taking part in the Recovery Walk, the event gives them a chance to share stories about their loved ones who have pasted and keep their memories alive while continuing on in the fight against substance abuse and addiction.

Risco passed away in June at her home following a battle with addiction. Those who knew her said her passing came as a complete surprise. She had been doing well working with officials at the Talitha Koum Women’s Recovery House in Greenfield, making real strides before slipping up and losing her life.

“We feel a little overwhelmed today, but we know she is with us,” Risco’s mother said. “We are proud of how hard she tried, this is all a bit of a roller coaster.”

Brown, 33, of Fortville, passed away July 17, 2021. She was a 2006 graduate of Mt. Vernon High School and left behind many loved ones, including her son Grant, who she was devoted to.

Ostewig said, to honor women like Risco and Brown, they’d love to put Greenfield on the map as one of the best places across the state for recovery and supporting families who want to help spread the word there is help for those addicted.

During the ceremony, Sen. Mike Crider was recognized for his work in supporting mental health issues. After the families of Risco and Brown released balloons in honor of the women who passed, the whole group took off on the Recovery Walk.

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