Pickerington couple turns grief into action after losing nine family members to overdoses

Diana (left) and Mike (right) Yoder (WCMH photo)

PICKERINGTON, OH (WCMH) — A Pickerington couple who has experienced tremendous loss isn’t letting their sorrow get in the way of fighting the opiate epidemic.

Diana and Mike Yoder have lost nine extended family members to overdoses.

“Nieces, great-nieces, cousins…” said Diana. “No family is exempt.”

She said she was at the funeral for her nephew, who passed away from an overdose, when his son, who also struggled with addiction, came and stood next to her at the casket.

“I said, ‘You know, you don’t have to end up here,’” she said. “’You need to get some help,’ and he promised he would get help. We came home from that funeral and 10 days later, he was dead.”

She said it was a moment that made an impact.

Now, Diana and her husband Mike are co-chairs of the State of Ohio’s steering committee for the Addiction Policy Forum.

“You hear a lot of people say, ‘Let these kind of people hit bottom,'” said Mike. “Well for addicts, for most of them, bottom is six feet under and so what we decided to do was to go beyond that and say there is help, there is hope.”

Their hope is to find families in crisis and make sure they have reliable resources to get treatment while getting others to join in and help.

“Even if Diana and I change one person’s life, it’s all worth it,” said Mike.

The Yoder’s have organized a candlelight vigil and training session for people affected by the opiate epidemic. Registration is required. It’s this Saturday from 5 to 7pm at the World Harvest Church in Canal Winchester. Representatives from the Washington, D.C. office for the Addiction Policy Forum will also be there.

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