WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Alex Bradford was about to finish his sophomore year at UNCW when tragedy struck.
At just 19 years old, Alex fell victim to deadly fentanyl poisoning after ingesting fentanyl through drugs he bought from a fellow classmate. He passed away in March of 2022.
“Alex suffered the same pressures as many college students do with mental health, and unknowingly ingested illicit fentanyl because he chose to self-medicate,” Jeremy Bradford, Alex’s father, said.
Now, after months of suffering and grief, Jeremy and Alex’s Mother, Millisa, started 2 Out Rally, a foundation to honor Alex’s legacy and bring awareness to the harmful impacts of fentanyl. The name was inspired by Alex’s love for baseball.
A quote from the 2 Out Rally website says, “2 Out Rally….even in the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs, there is still time to RALLY. 1 at bat can change the outcome of the game. 1 moment can change your LIFE. NEVER give up, show love and compassion, it could save a life.”
Now, the Bradfords have partnered with Barb Walsh, founder of the Fentanyl Victims Network of North Carolina, to include Alex in a series of digital billboards across New Hanover County. Walsh is also personally affected by fentanyl, as her daughter, Sophia, passed away from fentanyl poisoning in 2021.
Together, the team has included Alex’s image and story as part of the 13 victims displayed on the billboards. Walsh says she hopes these billboards will inspire other family members of fentanyl poisoning victims to come forward and seek support. She believes that together, they can rally to end the fentanyl epidemic so that no other family has to suffer.
“Those billboards are a public messaging system. They’re a PSA. I want to replicate what the Bradford’s have done because we’re not going to win this if we only work by ourselves,” Walsh said.
But this battle is far from over.
“You’re literally playing Russian roulette if you’re choosing to utilize drugs that you don’t know could be laced with fentanyl. Alex didn’t know,” Bradford said. “It’s really to bring a face to the epidemic, because it doesn’t matter your economic background, your status, how you were raised, your religious belief, fentanyl does not discriminate.”
The locations of the 6 public safety billboards in New Hanover County are:
The Fentvic billboard campaign running in Winston-Salem will come to an end on June 26th. The billboards have been captured in a time lapse format and the portions for other advertisers has been removed leaving just the victims featured on each one. See the billboard content on the YouTube videos below.
On Monday, 18 billboards went up around the Triad with faces of those the community has lost due tofentanyl poisoning. One of those faces was Walker town local Christian Wilson who died from fentanyl poisoning in 2019. The billboard reads, ‘join us and fight illicit fentanyl.Christian, Forever 19.
Christian’s mother, Crystal Wilson, of Walkertown, has made it her mission to help others who are going through this and to also help bring awareness to the rising issue of fentanyl in the county, state and country.
She explained that the 18 “angels” on the billboards, including her son, are only a fraction of the people that North Carolina has lost to fentanyl poisoning.
We say poisoning, not overdose. It is a poisoning because they don’t know what they’re taking.
An overdose is taking too much of a known substance.They don’tknow that this is there, so it’s considered a poisoning.
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May 29-June 26, 2023, 24/7, digital and illuminated.
Winston-Salem, Forsyth County NC, 2 locations
Purpose is to raise awareness of the 13,376 NC victims of illicit fentanyl poisonings and to generate public safety conversations within communities and families about the dangers of illicit fentanyl, particularly counterfeit pills. Illicit fentanyl killed over 523 Forsyth County residents in the past 9 years, 2013-August 2022. (source: North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics, Vital Statistics Death Certificate Data)
These are the first billboards of the FENTVIC.ORG Campaign. They feature 19 NC illicit fentanyl poisoning victims with permission of their families. The campaign will run in other cities throughout NC exclusively featuring NC illicit fentanyl poisoning victims. Future campaign locations and dates TBD.
Barb Walsh, Executive Director, 919-614-3830, firstname.lastname@example.org. Fentvic is a charitable nonprofit located in Cary NC. EIN #88-3921380. Fentvic fights illicit fentanyl in NC. Fentvic advocates for public safety for all and justice for NC families permanently damaged by illicit fentanyl poisonings.
FENTVIC.ORG NCBILLBOARD CAMPAIGN: 2 locations in Winston Salem, Forsyth County
Digital Group One features NC fentanyl victims Alexandra, Christian, Gabriella, Heaven, Hunter, Jared, Jeremiah, Robert, Sophia, and Zack: Billboard location: sign 305-4. B40 .12 miles East of Stratford Road N, Exit 3C N/side of highway Facing west. You can park off Miller Street (near Publix) behind the Mayberry’s Restaurant to view this digital (parking lot area there for viewing) Google Maps.
Digital Group Two features NC fentanyl victims Abigail, Ashley, Carissa, Chase, Marshall, Martin, Michiko, Mikey, Sophia, and Vincent. Billboard Location: sign 602-4. B40 .37 miles West of Old Greensboro Rd/ Linville Road (Exit 10)NS Facing west. Take Exit 10 to Linville Road, and head towards Smokin’ Harley Davidson dealer. Go past the dealer toward Pepsi plant (turn around and you can park on side of service road for viewing) Google Maps.