WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — According to the CDC, more than 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses last year. It's the highest annual death toll on record.
Claudia Marini of Asheboro said her daughter Maddie was an avid reader and soccer player who had dreams of becoming a forensic anthropologist.
“When she walked into a room, she was beautiful,” Marini said. “She had this beautiful hazel, sometimes they were blue sometimes they were green, mesmerizing eyes. She just loved everybody.”
In December of 2016, Maddie's dreams were cut short. Marini said her daughter died of a drug overdose at just 22 years old.
“There are just no words to describe that moment when you hear your child is gone,” Marini said. “It took me a while to even grasp the thought. It's truly like I had lost function of all my limbs, all my senses.”
Marini said she found a way to turn her pain into purpose by starting a nonprofit in her daughter's memory. Maddie's Mission is a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness about addiction and overdoses. On October 8, the organization will host its 6th Annual Maddie's Miles 5K at Jamison Park in Winston-Salem.
“It's a way for us to spread awareness about how you get addicted, what do you do if you get addicted, where do you go, what are the signs,” Marini said. “All the things people really weren't talking about."
Marini said proceeds from the race will be used to help fund the Drug Treatment Court in Forsyth County. It’s a program she said could have saved her daughter's life.
“When you're in the thralls of addiction you're not thinking clearly and sometimes they need a little extra push until we can get them somewhere, get them detoxed and clean."
Families who lost a loved one to drug addiction are encouraged to submit a photo of their loved one along with a write-up of who they were to honor their life and break the stigma of addiction.
The race starts at 9 a.m.