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October 8, 2019

Former White House staffer will speak at addiction vigil

Contributed Photo
Through his Voices Project and other efforts, Ryan Hampton reaches an estimated one million people a week in the battle against addiction.
Last year’s candlelight vigil attached 125 people to Courthouse Square in Warrenton.
We feel like we’re a little better prepared . . . . We want to be there and let people know they are not alone. It’s a daunting experience.
— Betty Ramsburg, survivor and vigil organizer
A former White House staffer and recovering addict will speak Wednesday night in Warrenton at the third local vigil to remember those who have died of overdoses.

The vigil will begin at 7 p.m. on Courthouse Square.

Ryan Hampton has earned praise from Democrats and Republicans for helping to build a coalition that addresses addiction as an issue that crosses political boundaries. A former aide to President Bill Clinton, Mr. Hampton worked closely with President Donald Trump’s administration and legislators of both parties to help craft portions of the Support for Patients and Communities Act, signed into law last October.

“Ryan’s story gives government leaders on both sides of the aisle smart, commonsense solutions to consider,” former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said.

Sheriff Bob Mosier, Warrenton Police Chaplain Wally Smith and Garrett Hade, the Los Angeles outreach coordinator for Facing Addiction, also will speak Wednesday night. Mr. Hampton serves as a recovery activist with Facing Addiction.

Marshall area resident Betty Ramsburg, one of the vigil’s organizers, got to know Mr. Hampton “going to some rallies in D.C. and other places,” she said.

In 2016, he created the web series, Facing Addiction Across America, documenting his 30-day, 28-state, 8,000-mile cross-country trip visiting areas hit hardest by the addiction crisis.

In 2016, the first local vigil drew about 75 people to downtown Warrenton. Last year, 125 attended the event.

“It seems like we’re getting better organized and bringing in more people,” said Ms. Ramsburg, whose son Travis Rose, died of an overdose in 2015. The sheriff’s office named an effort to battle addiction for Mr. Rose.

“When I lost my son and others lost children, there was absolutely nothing” in terms of community support, Ms. Ramsburg said. “We feel like we’re a little better prepared . . . . We want to be there and let people know they are not alone.

“It’s a daunting experience.”

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