NEWS: Local Group Donates Thousands to COCA

Berks County Black Balloon Group Donates Fundraising Efforts to COCA
Money Will Aid in Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Berks

August 21, 2018 (Reading, PA): “You shouldn’t deal with this alone, and you don’t have to,” said Pat Murray. He was talking about the grief and pain individuals, including himself, feel when a loved one dies from an overdose. Pat and his father Bill began the Berks County Black Balloon Facebook group, after discovering Black Balloon Day. This day is recognized on March 6 by hanging up black balloons to show affected by a drug overdose death.

On the night of March 12, 2018, more than 350 people gathered at the Wyomissing Family Restaurant & Bakery for the Inaugural Berks County “Black Balloon” event. The event was in honor of Christopher Murray, who was lost to a drug overdose 13 years ago. All the proceeds from the event were donated to the Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA) to continue efforts to prevent fatal overdoses and to educate the community about the harmful effects of opioids.

“It is inspiring to see a family and group stepping out from behind the shadows of sorrow and shame to bring attention to this devastating, and deadly opioid problem,” said COCA Executive Director, Stanley Papademetriou. “The efforts of the Murray family show courage and offers an example to the community that stigma does not have to win.”

“We quickly realized the impact was greater than we thought at our event in March. We were doing more than just hosting a buffet benefit fundraiser. That night we were telling people ‘There is hope. You too will heal from your loss,’” said Bill Murray.

“Raising the money was great, but even greater than that was being able to support and encouraged others, and to help break the stigma of addiction,” said Pat.

Berks County Black Balloon was created to increase awareness in Berks County of the opioid epidemic and its far-reaching negative impact. You can connect with Berks County Black Balloon on their Facebook Page:


About Council on the Chemical Abuse (COCA)

Established in 1972 by a group of community members, the Council on Chemical Abuse was formed as a private non-profit organization to address rising concerns of drug and alcohol use in Berks County. The Berks County Commissioners contract with the Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA) as the Single County Authority for Berks County, PA. As the coordinating agency for publicly supported drug and alcohol programming in the county, COCA and its partners provide an array of prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery services.

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