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Chris Walk sheds light on substance abuse

GENEVA – The Chris Walk Night Out Against Substance Abuse on Saturday drew people from beyond Kane County.

Among the event's attendees were Kathy Whitehead of Elk Grove, her sister Karen Berrios of Streamwood and Whitehead's sponsor, Pattie Cabana of Barrington.

"It's a good cause with great people, and very organized," Whitehead said.

The three women were part of the 100 participants in a 5K race during the event's 7th annual outing, which was held this year at the Gunnar Anderson Forest Preserve, 719 S. Batavia Ave., Geneva.

In addition to the runners and walkers, the event drew dozens more people who gathered around several vendors, information booths, raffles and a silent auction.

This year also was the first time attendees could sign up for a one-hour Zumba workout and its first at the forest preserve, said Vicki Foley, a Shaw Media employee who started the event. Chris Walk is named after Foley's son, Chris, who died of a heroin overdose on July 15, 2007. He was 27.

Chris Walk celebrates the lives of those lost like Foley's son and also to bring awareness to the battle against substance abuse everywhere.

"This is not a police problem, this is a societal problem," Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez said at the event.

Perez and also Kane County Coroner Rob Russell in separate speeches talked about the need for groups to pool resources and work together to make a difference.

Russell said he does not want to see young residents brought to the morgue who have died of a heroin or other drug overdose.

Cody Lewis, 22, of Aurora, shared his struggle with heroin addiction at the event. He has been sober since October 2013 and said coming to events such as the Chris Walk helps him stay clean.

Foley hugged and thanked Lewis for being honest about his addiction and told his mother, who was also at the event, that she knew exactly what she was going through.

"Things like this will hopefully make people more aware so they won't start (down that path)," Foley said.

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