EdTalks 2024 – Betsy Moore, Richland Creek Elementary School

EdTalks is modeled after the highly-regarded TEDtalks and was created by WakeEd Partnership to provide a public platform for Wake County educators to share their stories, their truths, and their experiences.

The event was held at Jones Auditorium on the campus of Meredith College in Raleigh, NC on March 21, 2024.

Sounding the alarm on fentanyl: Meet-up in Winston-Salem helps provide support to impacted families

Families who have lost loved ones to fentanyl throughout the state have the opportunity to come together in Winston-Salem Saturday, in an effort to seek support and also raise awareness.

Harnett Man Linked To Fentanyl Deaths Of 4 People, Authorities Say

HARNETT COUNTY – A Harnett County man with a history of law enforcement interaction for the past 20 years has been indicted by a grand jury for distributing fentanyl that killed four people on the morning of March 28, 2020.

The jury returned a true bill of indictment on Feb. 26 charging Gerard LaSalle McLean, 37, of 446 Raynor McLamb Road, Bunnlevel, with four counts each of death by distribution and aggravated death by distribution.

“There were two scenes,” explained Harnett County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Aaron Meredith. The first victim, Shannon Lynette McLean, was located at 112 Blake St. in Lillington at 12:49 a.m. Three other victims were found dead in a car located at 242 Nutgrass Road in Bunnlevel at 7:37 a.m.

There were others who overdosed at both locations and survived,” Meredith shared.

The indictment alleges Gerard McLean sold fentanyl to a person identified as Courtney McLean. Investigators say this substance was ingested by Shannon McLean and she died as a result.

While looking into this indictment, the Record learned that Gerard McLean has three other related indictments stemming from his alleged distribution of fentanyl in March 2020.

Lt. R.S. Jackson, of the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office and a homicide detective in the criminal investigation division, charged Gerard McLean with three counts of death by distribution on March 28, 2020. He was arrested on May 6, 2020. He has been held under a $600,000 secured bond since that time. Based on this arrest and a prior drug conviction in Cumberland County, the jury agreed on charges of aggravated death by distribution in the deaths of Shannon McLean, Ervin Bass Jr., Laketa Vinson and Brittany Shaw.

The last three indictments were returned on July 6 and served on Gerard McLean in the Harnett County Detention Center the following day.

The indictments allege that the fentanyl was purchased from Gerard McLean by Brittany Shaw and ingested by Bass, Vinson and Shaw, resulting in their deaths.

All four of Gerard McLean’s alleged victims died on March 28, 2020.

Continue reading “Harnett Man Linked To Fentanyl Deaths Of 4 People, Authorities Say”

Non-profit to offer naloxone to Dreamville attendees


Dreamville Music Festival organizers are ensuring attendees can have a good and safe time on Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, the festival announced they will have naloxone kits available at the festival.

Dreamville Music Festival organizers are ensuring attendees can have a good and safe time on Saturday and Sunday.

On Monday, the festival announced they will have naloxone kits available at the festival.

Naloxone is a drug that counteracts the effects of an opioid overdose. It is sold under the brand name Narcan.

Dreamville is partnering with This Must Be The Place to help distribute the kits. The group is a non-profit that helps distribute kits for various events, ranging from music festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza to awards shows like the Grammy Awards.

“It is our goal to normalize naloxone and other overdose prevention tools in every corner of the country, because only then can we curb the deaths that continue to be caused by this unfortunate epidemic,” The charity said on its website.

William Perry with Be the Place said this is the third year the charity has worked at festivals to provide naloxone.

“We have passed out 50,000 of these kits, that resulted in 100 [out of] 100 overdose reversals,” Perry said.

Perry said while they may work out of festivals, they wanted to emphasize festivals are the best places to get the life-saving drug into the hands of people.

“You are going to have folks from all over coming into the Dreamville Festival [and] we can catch them when they are in one place. Due to a lot of barriers, they haven’t gotten the stuff,” he explained. “You’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.”

Dreamville isn’t the only place offering or considering having naloxone.

In February, Wake County Public School System leaders said they recommend the drug in every school and a policy to train staff to use it. A month later, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first naloxone over-the-counter nasal spray, which hit shelves in September.

In Edgecombe County, the county jail will have a vending machine for Narcan.

Perry said he hopes the charity and its presence at Dreamville will help destigmatize the need for naloxone and help access the drug, which can be difficult to find.

“This is normalizing the care of others, which has been so impactful,” Perry said.

Perry said the group will distribute the naloxone near one of the entrances of the festival grounds, and graduate students from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill will assist them.

‘We are in the business of saving lives’ | NC leaders seeking solutions to the fentanyl crisis

State and local leaders held a press conference Wednesday to highlight strategies to mitigate the fentanyl epidemic in Mecklenburg County.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden, Attorney General Josh Stein and other federal, state, and Charlotte leaders are seeking solutions to the fentanyl crisis.

Sheriff McFadden hosted a press conference Wednesday at the Mecklenburg County Detention Center in order to highlight some of the work done to combat the rise in fentanyl-related deaths.

According to the United States Department of Justice, the number of fentanyl seizures in 2024 represents over 82 million deadly doses.

Around 10 people die in North Carolina every day because of fentanyl, according to Stein. 

During the press conference, leaders discussed efforts by the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office to train staff members on administering Narcan. These efforts saved over a dozen lives this past year. 

“People are dying from this drug thinking that they’re taking something simple, but it’s laced with fentanyl,” Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden said.

Also, in November of 2023, the Arrest Processing Center lobby received a Narcan vending machine, which is accessible to anyone. Additionally, Sheriff McFadden installed 39 Narcan alarm boxes that were placed in resident pods.

“Should Narcan be in schools? Absolutely. In every classroom? Absolutely. At every nightclub? Absolutely, why? Because we are in the business of saving lives,” Sheriff McFadden said. 

Continue reading “‘We are in the business of saving lives’ | NC leaders seeking solutions to the fentanyl crisis”

Fentanyl Awareness Day @ NC General Assembly 5/1/24 fentvic.org

Be Seen ~ Be Heard ~ Be Remembered ~ Save Lives

DateWednesday 5/1/24
10 am press conference (outside) followed by visits with their Representative and Senator.
LocationNorth Carolina Legislative Building
16 West Jones Street
Raleigh NC 27601

Please RSVP to attend the event (optional).

Mother shares story about son’s battle with addiction for millions to see during NCAA Tournament

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. —

While millions of people are watching the NCAA Tournament, Forsyth County is hoping their ad about a mother who lost her son to addiction, will spread awareness.

The ad created by Forsyth County Behavioral Health Services starts with mother Stephanie Lynch telling her story about what happened to her 27-year-old son Evan who died in 2020 after battling addiction.

Lynch said Evan was injured on a job and given oxycodone by his doctor. She says he became addicted to the opioids and once he could no longer get the pain pills, he started using heroin.

Lynch said Evan went to rehab several times and struggled. It’s something she says he couldn’t stop.

“Evan hated being addicted to opioids, he hated it. He would tell me, ‘you know, mom, I don’t want to die as a drug addict, I don’t want that to be what people remember me for,'” Lynch said.

On April 11, 2020, Evan died from Fentanyl poisoning.

Although he lost that fight, Lynch said he’s no longer in pain and is at peace now.

Her hope is his story will help others.

“His death maybe was not in vain that, you know, his story can help someone else going through the same thing be able to get help or see that they need help or a family member to see that they need help,” Lynch said.

Now Lynch and her son’s story will be displayed for millions of people to see throughout the month of March during NCAA tournament coverage.

“It’s devastating to lose someone you know to substance abuse. It just destroys your whole family. So if there’s anything I can do to help anyone, I’m always willing to do that,” Lynch said.

Annie Vasquez, a Substance Use Health Educator said the ad was created to show the realities of the opioid epidemic in Forsyth County and everywhere.

“The reality is that it touches every single age group, every single race, gender and zip code,” Vasquez said.

Vasquez said in addition to this ad, they have another one airing that’s centered around pills.

Anyone struggling with addiction or knows someone struggling with addiction can reach out to Forsyth County Behavioral Health Services for help.

Read the full article and watch the video on the WXII 12 News website.

NC mom campaigns to put ‘Narcan’ in state schools

Barbara Walsh, founder of Fentanyl Victims Network of North Carolina, has efforts underway to put Fentanyl reversing drug Naxolone or ‘Narcan’ in all state schools.

Barbara Walsh, founder of Fentanyl Victims Network of North Carolina, has efforts underway to put Fentanyl reversing drug Naxolone or ‘Narcan’ in all state schools.

What is Fentanyl?

It’s a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent.

While it is a prescription drug, it also can be made and used illegally.

When used properly, fentanyl treats severe pain like after surgery.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, synthetic opioids like fentanyl are now the most common type of drugs involved in overdoses in the U.S.

Finding Solutions

Wake County resident, Barbara Walsh’s life changed forever in 2021. Her 24-year-old daughter died from fentanyl poisoning after unknowingly drinking a bottle of water laced with the drug. 

Because of that unfortunate event, Walsh is now leading efforts to get fentanyl out of the hands of minors and put Naloxone on the shelves of schools in North Carolina. 

The Fentanyl Victims Network of North Carolina or ‘Fent Vic’ for short was created as a grassroot campaign against illicit fentanyl in North Carolina. 

RELATED: 8 pounds of fentanyl-laced meth found on Reidsville man

Walsh’s network speaks and connects with families who have lost loved ones to the fentanyl drug. 

Currently, Walsh is pushing for the opioid reversal medication Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, to be available in every school in our state. Her efforts are across all 100 counties of our state.

“We’re seeing a lot of adolescents experimenting or unknown to them or experiencing fentanyl crisis and their lives could be saved if Naloxone which is the antidote to the fentanyl emergency is administered,” Walsh said. 

Since Walsh’s efforts began in December 2023, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has added naloxone to its first aid kits at every school. Nurses and at least two first responders at each school are to be trained in how to use it.

The Fent Vic organization will be holding a meetup on April 14 in Winston-Salem. For more information, click or tap HERE

Fentanyl Crisis in the Triad

Here in the triad, there are efforts underway.

State and local leaders addressed the opioid and fentanyl crisis alongside local leaders in February.

A combined $89 million dollars is going to fight the crisis in the Triad. $47 million dollars of that federal money is coming to Greensboro and Guilford County. Another $42 million dollars heads to Forsyth County and Winston-Salem.

The money is earmarked to help prosecute drug suppliers, and decrease demand thru recovery services.

Wake County gets $65 million to fight opioid crisis: How to spend the money?

Over the next 18 years, Wake County will receive $65 million to fight the opioid crisis.

Families who lost loved ones to opioids are helping Wake County plan how to spend millions of dollars to prevent more deaths.

According to Wake County, 219 people died from overdoses in the county in 2022, the last full year of recorded data. That’s one person every 40 hours.

Data from the Raleigh Police Department shows 103 of those deaths — nearly half — occurred in Raleigh, making 2022 the city’s most deadly year on record since police began tracking drug overdoses in 2015.

Over the next 18 years, Wake County will receive $65 million as part of a $50 billion nationwide settlement that forces drugmakers and distributors to pay for their part in the opioid epidemic.

On Friday, Wake County leaders asked for the community’s input on how to best use the money.

Wake County’s Opioid Settlement Community met Friday inside the McKimmon Center at North Carolina State University. The committee brought together more than 100 people, including families who’ve lost loved ones to the opioid crisis.

Cheryl Stallings, a Wake County commissioner, said the county has already received about $4.85 million.

“This is significant, and this is historical,” Stallings said. “We really want to use these funds wisely, and we think one of the best ways to do that is to plan with as many people as involved as how we want to use those funds moving forward.”

The funds have helped expand treatment for people with opioid use disorder and provided resources for survivors of an overdose.

Now, Wake County must create a plan to spend more settlement funds over the next two years.

“We have these funds that can actually do something in stopping that trend and building an infrastructure of health and well being for our community moving forward,” Stallings said.

Cary resident Barb Walsh said moving forward is how she honors her daughter, Sophia, who died of fentanyl poisoning in 2021.

“She stopped at an acquaintance’s house and grabbed a bottle of water, and in that bottle of water was diluted fentanyl,” Walsh said.

Walsh now runs the nonprofit Fentanyl Victims Network of North Carolina to help shape the response to the opioid crisis in Wake County.

“These folks are compassionate,” Walsh said. “They’re committed to saving lives, and so am I.”

Walsh said she hopes there can be easier access to the drugs Naloxone or Narcan, which can reverse an opioid overdose.

Wake County is currently trying to expand where people can get the life-saving drugs, including working with the Wake County Public School System to make Narcan available on all campuses.

Families of overdose victims join Wake County opioid settlement talks

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Wake County wants the community’s input on how to spend more than $65 million. The county will receive the money over the next 18 years as part of a national opioid settlement.

The county says it wants people directly impacted by the opioid epidemic to help make these decisions, and they hosted a community meeting Friday, bringing together several different groups sharing their stories.

“She died immediately. Naloxone was not administered and 911 was not called,” said Barb Walsh, executive director of the Fentanyl Victims Network of NC.

In August 2021, Walsh’s daughter Sophia was 24, applying to grad school and getting ready to buy a house, but one day, she stopped at an acquaintance’s house.

“She grabbed a water bottle out of the fridge,” Walsh said.

Walsh said the bottle had fentanyl in it, killing her daughter.

“You go into a black hole when your child dies,” Walsh said.

Walsh now runs the Fentanyl Victims Network of NC, which helps support families like hers.

She joined nearly 150 people at Wake County’s community meeting Friday to discuss how the county should spend money from the national opioid settlement.

“This will really help us define how to make these investments over the next two years,” said Alyssa Kitlas, Wake County’s opioid settlement program manager.

Overdose deaths in Wake County have increased since 2019. In 2021, state health records show 240 people died of of an overdose.

“We’d like to slow that trend and really support people with their most immediate needs,” Kitlas said.

The county wants to keep investing in treatment, early intervention and housing support.

Other groups, like the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, also want to make sure people with firsthand experience are part of making decisions.

Read the full article and watch the video on the WRAL News website.