Oconomowoc, Wis. — The 9th annual Jump for Archie took place on Saturday dozens jumped in the lake at the Oconomowoc City Beach to show help is out there for people battling substance abuse.
The jump coincides with National Prevention Week May 7-13.
Erica Flores was searching for the photo of her cousin, Archie Badura, on the Wisconsin Memorial Quilt.
The quilt has the photos of those in Wisconsin who have died from an overdose.
“What’s so heartbreaking is that every year these quilts get bigger and bigger. While they are lovely, it’s a very sad story, and it’s more and more families, that’s hearts are broken."
After a little bit of time, Flores found Archie’s photo
He died nine years ago at the age of 19. It’s a day she will never forget.
“Just pulling into the house and running up there to his room, and just seeing my Aunt Lauri just falling apart, so I just sat there and cried, and it was just such a shock,” said Flores.
To help others, Flores founded Healing Harmonies to provide music and art therapy to help those who struggle with substance abuse.
There were also other resources such as overdose aid kits.
Captain Dan Schiller of Western Lakes Fire District said responding to overdose calls is all too common.
“We do see it’s very prevalent. It’s probably a weekly event, one or multiple crews are dealing with a drug overdose situation or poisoning,” said Capt. Schiller.
Kayla Whittenberger wrote the name of friends lost to an overdose on the SOFA Memorial Banner.
She said it could have easily been her name on the banner but got another chance after an overdose at the state fair in 2017.
Now, Whittenberger is a Certified Peer Specialist for Waukesha County Health and Human Services to help those who are struggling with substance abuse addiction.
“I lost multiple friends. I’ve lost myself. I’ve been incarcerated multiple times. It’s just impacted me to the point where I want to do better for others and give back,” said Whittenberger.
From those in recovery, like Whittenberger, to those who have lost loved ones to substance abuse, dozens jumped in the lake at the Oconomowoc City Beach.
Flores said her family first jumped in after Archie’s death.
“Every year it’s gotten bigger, and every year more and more people are dying, and so these jumps are more important to raise awareness to support those who are in recovery, but also support the family members because of the loss of their loved one,” said Flores.
To end the 9th annual Jump for Archie, all the names written on the memorial banner were said out aloud.
It’s a reminder of the work still to be done to make sure people get the help they need and no new names are added.