Personal stories a big part of Waushara County Heroin Summit

WAUTOMA – Losing a child is something no parent wants to experience.

Imagine losing a child to drug addiction.

A mother who went through that devastation is hoping to prevent more losses like it.

Brigette Henschel lights up when she says her daughter’s name.

“Amallia. Beautiful, beautiful,” she said.

Amalia Henschel, 21, died of a heroin overdose two years ago this month. Her body was found under a porch in Redgranite.

Brigette shared her story at a heroin awareness summit in Wautoma Thursday.

“I don’t want other people to go through the tragedy we did,” she explained.

But Kevin Meighan with the Waushara County Public Health Department told FOX 11 too many other people in the county are going through that tragedy.

He explained there are 24 thousand people living in Waushara County. Last year, one county hospital treated 26 overdose cases. Six people died.

“Bring awareness to the community of how much of a devastating effect this has had on families, lives, children,” Meighan said of the summit.

This particular summit was aimed at local business leaders.

“As for trying to hire employees that have addiction issues, trying to help the businesses protect themselves and hire good people back, give them a chance,” Meighan explained.

Meighan told us the main message is that recovery is possible.

As long as the community is aware of resources to help, added Henschel. “That’s what we’re trying to do is bring awareness, get treatments here. So that these people can get the help they need.”

Anthony Alvarado and Douglas Darby shared their stories too. They’re recovering addicts who started a program called Rise Together to show the reality of addiction and recovery.

“I nearly lost everything: family, friends. Between Darby and I, we’ve buried 12 people in the last 7 years alone,” said Alvarado.

Darby robbed two pharmacies and landed in prison before getting clean. He said telling his story does more than any statistic could.

“It’s everything. To have that personal story, to come in and say, ‘Look, I came from a good family. I knew I could get help, but by the time I knew that, my life was spinning out of control.  It was too late,” Darby explained.

Henschel said she will continue telling people about her daughter, before it’s too late for someone else’s child.

“I believe that she is telling me to stand up and saying, ‘Mom, tell them. Show them: this is where you could be if you don’t stop doing what you’re doing,'” she said.

In Amalia Henschel’s case, two men are facing federal charges for her death. John Gearhardt and Randy Lindgren are accused of supplying her with heroin.

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