TROY — Molly and Erin Jarvis had a friendship unlike many others.
Molly, whose birth date is Oct. 9, was not quite a year under Erin, whose birth date was Oct. 29. The two grew up with younger brother Blake in Troy, actively participating in Troy schools as they were growing up.
Molly said that as a family they had been helping her sister to battle an addiction to heroin. Erin first went to a rehabilitation center in California a couple of years ago, and after completing treatment she moved to Evansville, Ind., with their mother.
At that point Molly said her sister had relapsed, moved away and went to a different rehabilitation facility, where she was sober for eight months before her death from heroin-related causes on Feb. 2 of this year.
The news was a shock to the family.
“We had no idea she was doing it again,” Molly said.
As their family recovers from the impact of Erin’s passing, Molly decided to use the energy from the tragedy to do something positive.
At 3 p.m. Oct. 24, The Erin Kristine Jarvis Walk Against Heroin will take place at Duke Park in Troy to benefit the Miami County Recovery Council, to raise awareness of heroin addiction, and help other families battling addiction to not have to live through what the Jarvis’ have.
Molly described the loss of her sister and the battle against heroin addiction as heartbreaking.
“It’s taking the lives of so many people, especially people around her age,” Molly said. “She was just 24 years old. She didn’t have time to do anything, to graduate from college or spread the word herself, so that’s why we’re doing it.”
Another goal of the walk was to battle the stigma against heroin and heroin addicts. Molly shared that many people associate heroin usage with people who are lowlifes or no good, and while the negative image is powerful in many individual’s minds, it simply isn’t true in many cases.
“I’ve had several people tell me, ‘Don’t put the word heroin on a T-shirt,’ or ‘Don’t put the word heroin on a wristband.’ People associate the term with low-class and, for lack of better terminology, trashy,” Molly said.
But Erin didn’t fit that mold.
“Erin was high school soccer captain, playing varsity soccer for four years. She went to Ohio University, was very active in her sober living community after she had gotten sober again, had very awesome friends and I would consider her to be in the popular circle at her school,” Molly said. “She loved everybody and everybody loved her. She didn’t fit that stigma that everyone puts on heroin users, as a drug for only bad people.”
The EKJ Walk Against Heroin will include information booths for Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous through MCRC. 100 percent of the proceeds from the walk are going to MCRC to help people who can’t afford rehabilitation under a scholarship fund, The EKJ Walk Against Heroin Scholarship Fund.
In addition to coordinating the walk, Molly is also opening her own non-profit organization to help other families battling heroin addiction find help or find the finances to help themselves and attending Wright State University as a rehabilitation services major.
She and Erin went to OU together and were there a couple of years before Molly decided to take two years off school to run a bar and pub in Piqua. She is set to graduate in May 2016.
Originally, rehabilitation services was not the path she started on, but she said her commitment to help others is now a lifelong commitment.
“It’s just hard and you have to find a way to make light of it, do something positive with that energy,” she said. “If I can do anything about it, I would like to save one family what my family has gone through.”
Molly also encourages anyone, regardless of whether their family is battling heroin addiction or not, to never take for granted the times they have with the people they love the most.
“It is so horrible waking up everyday knowing that she’s not just a phone call away or she’s not just there for me like she was,” she said. “She was my sister, my best friend, my other half and for her to not be around anymore, I just feel there’s so many times I took for granted with her.”
The EKJ Walk Against Heroin takes place at 3 p.m. Oct. 24 at Duke Park, 1670 Troy-Sidney Road in Troy. Sign-in starts at 2 p.m. and is $10 to walk and $15 for a t-shirt and walk. A rally will follow the walk, which features raffles, music, food and informational booths. Tickets are $1 each or six for $5.
For information about registration locations, visit the group’s Facebook page or contact Molly Jarvis with any other questions at [email protected]
Reach Allison C. Gallagher at [email protected] or on Twitter @Troydailynews.