Overdose Awareness Day events are being held around the country for families and friends to come together, remember their loved ones and raise awareness about the drug epidemic that is killing 200 young Americans every day. 

SafeLaunch, the Santa Barbara-based addiction prevention initiative, is hosting its first Overdose Awareness Day event with Signature Flight Support at the Santa Barbara Airport on Saturday, August 31 from 1 to 3pm. The event will give grieving families and friends a place to come together and speak openly about their loved ones. Gathering inside the main hangar at Signature Flight Support, attendees will have the opportunity to speak the name of their loved one, ring a WWII Navy bell in their memory, and paint their loved one's name on a special Cessna 182. 

Showcased in the hanger will be 521DJ, the centerpiece of the SafeLaunch Flights Above Addiction program. "DJ" has provided thousands of children across the country the opportunity to paint their dreams underneath the names of 230 young people memorialized on her wings.

The owner of "DJ", Commander Ron Cuff, is a veteran Navy pilot and a SafeLaunch co-founder. He states, “On the rare occasion when a commercial aircraft goes down, the disaster is reported on for days, weeks and months. Today and every day we lose 200 young people to drugs... and yet, hardly anyone blinks. The drug crisis is a 100% preventable disaster akin to an airliner crashing every single day of the year. I donate my plane and my time because I believe that each of us, in our own way, has a role to play in protecting youth from this insidious brain disease that far too often results in death."

“Together, we can save lives but first we must be able to talk openly about substance use disorder,'' says Janet Rowse, co-founder of SafeLaunch. “We must understand that 9 out of 10 people suffering from a Substance Use Disorder were exposed to alcohol or other drug before age 18, making it imperative that education leaders create and enforce “Drug Free” campuses... and for parents to insist they do. Research from the National Institute on Health shows that a 14-year old’s brain is up to 600% more susceptible to developing chemical dependency than a mature adult brain. Without the intentional support by education and community leaders to prioritize children’s health, parents cannot effectively protect their children from this disease.”

Signature Flight Support's General Manager Matt Long laments, “Sometimes death isn’t the worst outcome. Addiction can happen to anyone. My family watched helplessly as my brother struggled and suffered for 18 years before finally succumbing to this disease”.

Families are asked to bring an 8 x 10 or larger, photo of their loved one. Photographs of hundreds of young people who have lost their lives to Substance Use Disorder will be on display. At the end of the event, attendees will be invited to watch the aircraft take off for a loop around Santa Cruz Island. The plane will launch in memory of lives lost, and with optimism that together we will reduce the stigma that prevents people from getting the help they need.

Aug 31, 2019
1-3 PM
Signature Flight Support Main Hangar
515 Marxmiller Place
Goleta, California 93117




Informing families, schools and communities that the only safe amount of adolescent exposure to alcohol and other drugs is zero. #onechoice