PEABODY — This year's Colton Buckley road race will be a little different.
A free pasta dinner the night before will include some life-saving training as well. Those who attend the dinner next week will learn how to administer naloxone to a person overdosing on opioids.
Buckley, a Peabody native, was just 22 when he died of an overdose in 2014; the 5th annual road race, once again, is being held in his memory.
Twenty people who participate in the training will also be offered a free unit of the opioid-overdose antidote to take with them.
The pasta dinner for race participants is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 10, from 3 to 7 p.m., at the Ancient Order of Hibernians hall, 58 Lowell St. Naloxone training will run from 4:30 to 5 p.m.
This is all taking place in advance of the Colton Buckley 5K race/walk, scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 11, at 9:30 a.m.
The doses of naloxone were made possible via a $1,500 donation by the City Council to the city's Health Department. The money was enough to purchase the opioid-overdose antidote at a price of $75 per unit. The training will be provided by personnel from Atlantic Ambulance and the Peabody Fire Department.
Public health director Sharon Cameron said the training is important because you never know when you might come across someone overdosing in public, and who could be helped by someone trained to administer naloxone.
She noted that even for addicts in recovery, it isn't unusual for them to "backslide." People who use opioids after not doing so for a while are more likely to overdose "because their body tolerance has changed," she said.
"We want to train as many people as possible," said Cameron.
"I carry it," said state Sen. Joan Lovely, D-Salem, who now carries naloxone in her purse after witnessing someone overdose in a supermarket while shopping for a Thanksgiving turkey about four years ago.
At the time, she served as state Senate chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, so she had heard enough about the signs of an overdose to recognize one. However, she neither carried the antidote, nor was she trained in how to use it. Later, she did receive training at the Statehouse, and not long after that, went to a pharmacy and was able to obtain it with no questions asked.
"It think it's a great idea they are doing it," she said of the upcoming training in Peabody.
Cameron had been trying to schedule naloxone trainings in the city when City Councilor Anne Manning-Martin and Lisa Buckley, the mother of Colton Buckley, proposed a training event to coincide with the pre-race pasta dinner.
Manning-Martin said she, Lisa Buckley and others had brainstormed some ideas together and "thought it would be a good fit" to offer the training at the dinner the night before the annual race.
Offering the naloxone free of charge would help overcome the stigma and the cost associated with purchasing the medicine, she said.
As a young man, Colton Buckley ran track and cross country and played baseball at Bishop Fenwick in Peabody, and he also attended Salem State University.
After his death, in 2016, his parents, Todd and Lisa, established a nonprofit foundation in his name to raise awareness, educate others and take the stigma out of addiction.
Part of the foundation's efforts has been to raise money for programs that address the endemic problem of substance abuse in the community, and proceeds from the race/walk go toward those efforts. The title sponsor of the race this year is the Peabody technology consulting company, GraVoc, whose president and CEO is City Councilor David Gravel.
The $25,000 the event has raised over the past four years has been donated to organizations such as Citizens Inn of Peabody, which runs one of the two sober living transition facilities in the state, Foster Forward, Learn to Cope, Beverly Recovery School, and the Peabody Drug Education and Awareness Council, among others.
Proceeds from this year's race will be used to build a children's enrichment center at Citizens Inn to provide a safe learning space for kids to read and use tablets and computers. The event also supports Learn to Cope and Foster Forward.
On Oct. 25, the City Council voted to direct money from a golf fundraiser this summer at the city's golf course to three local programs: $1,500 to Citizens Inn Transition Residential Recovery Program, $1,000 to the Peabody YMCA Family Recovery Program, and $1,000 to the Colton Buckley Foundation. That night, the council also voted to donate $1,500 to those undergoing the training.
Colton Buckley's father, Todd, credited Manning-Martin — who is the chairwoman of the council's ad hoc Drug Education and Awareness Committee — with being at the forefront of efforts to address the opioid epidemic in the city.
Cameron said a future naloxone training will take place on Dec. 13, 5:30 p.m., at Peabody City Hall, and one will also be held at the Torigian Family YMCA in December.
For those interested in running or walking in the Colton Buckley 5K, the entry fee is $25. More details are available at www.northshoretimingonline.com/reglive2017.aspx?eventyear_id=1499.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @TannerSalemNews.