RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Dozens gathered in Downtown Raleigh Wednesday night to mark International Overdose Awareness Day.
The crowd started at Bicentennial Mall to listen to speakers and hold a candlelight service before they marched to the grounds of the State Capitol.
More than 400 names of those lost to drug overdoses were also read.
"It had so much stigma for so long," said Freida MacDonald, who lost her son Michael to an overdose in 2016. "Now we're trying to keep that from being swept under the rug. I believe it's my purpose to go out and tell stories and be there for other people that are experiencing this."
The event was the 6th annual rally. Randy Abbott helped organize the first one after he lost his daughter in 2015.
"This is just one small part," Abbott said. "There's a whole crowd of people that work on this and I just can't give up. I made the commitment then to get involved and I would make a difference and do whatever I could to fight, and I've done so ever since."
Barbara Walsh lost her 24-year-old daughter last year to Fentanyl.
"We all want to save lives but the thing is we need to say the word Fentanyl," Walsh said. "She did not have a substance abuse disorder, she did not have mental health issues: Fentanyl killed her and I don't have any explanation."
Sophia graduated with honors from Appalachian State in 2020 and had just moved to Charlotte for a new job.
The DEA this week also warned of a new brightly-colored Fentanyl used to target younger Americans.
Walsh wants to make sure Naloxone is being distributed statewide. She has also started the Fentanyl Victims Network of NC to continue to educate and advocate.
"It takes a long time to get through this and I don't think I'm done but helping others, building this network is my form of therapy," she said.