One Shelton mother said the pain of losing a child to opioid use disorder is a feeling that only people who have been through it can understand, but it is a potential reality that everyone should be aware of. Julia Markarian of Shelton tragically lost her son, Stephen Medeiros, to a drug overdose five years ago. \u201cIt\u2019s one of those things that you won\u2019t understand until reality hits you and we don\u2019t want it to hit you, but we want you to understand. That\u2019s our dilemma,\u201d said Markarian. Over the last five years, Markarian said she has spent a large portion of her time soul searching for a way to move past the tragedy, while still managing to keep her son\u2019s memory alive. Three years ago she created the nonprofit organization called \u201cFighting Against Drugs Everywhere\u201d or F.A.D.E., which organizes an annual 5K Walk\/Run to raise awareness for the disorder and the potential harm it can do to an individual\/family. On Thursday, Aug. 31 at 6 p.m., the organization will make its way back to the Shelton Riverwalk where participants will walk or run just over three miles around Shelton and a portion of Derby to commemorate the lives of those who died from or overcame addiction. Markarian said they chose Aug. 31 because it is also International Drug Awareness day. \u201cWe thought that it would be a really great day to do this and would coincide with our message,\u201d said Julia Markarian. The early registration is a $25, plus an additional $2.50 sign-up fee. Participants that sign up before Aug. 15 will receive a free T-shirt. Anyone under the age of 18 will be charged a $15 registration fee plus the additional $2.50 sign-up fee. After Aug. 15, the fees are the same except no T-shirt will be given. Day of registration is $30 for all ages (cash\/check only) with no T-shirt. Visit https:\/\/runsignup.com\/Race\/CT\/Shelton\/FightingAgainstDrugsEverywhere5KWalkRun2016 to register for the event. Markarian said the proceeds collected will be donated to prevention programs for the Valley community. One of the places where donations will be given to is BHCare, a provider of addiction and mental health services for the following towns: Shelton, Ansonia, Derby, Oxford, and Seymour. Director of Alliance for Prevention and Wellness at BHCare Pam Mautte said prevention is a critical component of combatting the opioid epidemic and she will be participating in the 5K for a second year in a row. \u201cA life lost to addiction is one too many,\u201d said Mautte. \u201cIn this past year in 2016 we lost 46 residents in the Valley towns. In the last five years we\u2019ve lost 110 residents.\u201d Mautte said she hopes that the event will help to erase the stigmas around addiction. \u201cAddiction is a brain disease and is not something to be shameful of,\u201d said Mautte. \u201cIt doesn\u2019t have any barriers. It affects families of all backgrounds and I think it\u2019s important that we as a community show our support for those going through it and help provide them with hope as well as healing.\u201d Challenges of raising awareness Markarian explained that making people aware of the ongoing epidemic has proven to be a bigger challenge than she could have ever anticipated. \u201cThe most important thing is making sure that no one forgets your son or child,\u201d said Markarian. Markarian said her first two experiences with organizing the event was difficult, but rewarding. Now in its third year, Markarian said the process of organizing the event is draining as it forces her to relive the tragic experience of losing her eldest son. Luckily for Markarian, this year she said she\u2019s been able to take a step back as she\u2019s received some extra help. \u201cThis year my daughter and her best friend took the reigns,\u201d said Markarian. \u201cIt\u2019s wonderful. To me, my 15-year-old might be too young to get involved in this, but I hope they continue this. I hope I can continue to take a couple of steps back, but still be involved. I just want to let them initiate it. They\u2019re young and have more energy so that\u2019s my goal.\u201d Markarian\u2019s daughter, Stephanie Medeiros McAlister, joined the cause in order to help out with the more technical side of the operation. She said living in California has limited her to only what she can contribute via her laptop, but she will continue to make sure the event touches people\u2019s hearts that have their personal connection to the cause. \u201cI think that this is one of the most courageous things that she\u2019s ever done,\u201d said McAlister. \u201cI find it amazing that she has the strength to put something like this together and devotes so much of her time.\u201d Markarian said she, like many other parents who have lost their children to addiction, doesn\u2019t want people to forget about her son. McAlister said she won\u2019t let that happen. \u201cThis is not only for my brother, there are many people who walk or run for a loved one that they lost,\u201d said McAlister. \u201cThis is for everyone who wants to keep their loved one\u2019s memory alive. This event has grown each year and will continue to grow.\u201d The organization are accepting donations of all kinds. Markarian clarified that donations do not have to be monetary. \u201cEvery little bit counts. Juice, water, or granola bars go a long way,\u201d said Markarian. For information about the 5K Run\/Walk contact the race director at firstname.lastname@example.org. To stay up-to-date with F.A.D.E.\u2019s events, visit their Facebook page, https:\/\/www.facebook.com\/fightingagainstdrugseverywhere\/.