When Garrett Maloney died May 1, it sent waves of pain through the community. SOLACE, a support group for those who have lost loved ones due to prescription drug abuse, is hoping to heal some of that pain with a candlelight vigil from 8 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Tracy Park. Event organizers say everyone is invited to attend and hope the event will show the Maloney family they have the community's love and support. That is something that Garrett's mother, Traci Maloney, said they've already begun to see. "The support we've gotten has just been tremendous, and I don't think you would get that support from other places," Maloney said. "...Scioto County has been in such a bad light, but when we needed people, everybody stepped (up). They were here for us and we really appreciate that." Police say Maloney's death was the result of a homocide and related to prescription drug abuse. Two men, Brian Baldridge and Joshua Kessinger, have been charged with the murder. His death has been a shock not just to those who knew him, but also to those for whom the situation feels all too familiar. "My first reaction was I just broke down crying," SOLACE member Barbara Howard said. "We have lost so many young people to this drug epidemic. ... You relive it every time you hear something like this. You relive it yourself every time, and my heart just went out to that family." Howard's daughter died of an oxycodone overdose in 2009. She says she is hoping the community will come together at Tuesday's vigil to show unity in the fight against addiction. "We just want to see (the community) band together. Let people know that we are so tired of this. The community needs to band together to fight this thing together," Howard said. "We need the unity." Maloney said some members of SOLACE, including group founder Jo Anna Krohn, contacted her after her son's death to offer their support. Before her son's death, Maloney was aware of SOLACE but said she never imagined prescription drug abuse would impact her life the way it has. "We talked to (Garrett), we talked to our other kids about drugs. ... We've always been open," Maloney said. "It wasn't something we saw him doing. He wasn't at the house or anything like that. I think that was one reason we were so surprised. And then you feel guilty because you didn't notice it..." Now that prescription drug abuse has impacted Maloney's family, she said they are determined to do what they can to keep it from harming other families. She said she hopes that both young people thinking about experimenting with drugs and their parents can learn a valuable lesson from what happened to Garrett. "We're not wanting this to happen again," Maloney said. "To the kids, if they think they want to do something maybe they will remember what happened to Garrett. And for the parents, maybe pay more attention to your kids and ask more questions." The vigil will take place immediately following a meeting of the SOLACE support group, which will be filmed by National Geographic. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the All Saints Episcopal Church at the corner of Fourth and Court streets in Portsmouth.
ERIC KEPHAS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org.