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Local Medina County News

'You cannot give up hope': Relatives pack Robby's to mourn those lost

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    Samantha Wonkovich, right, of Strongsville, lights a candle held by Joe Barnum, left, of Chippewa Lake, during a program held at Robby's Recovery Center Thursday evening. Wonkovich, an employee at the recovery center, is approaching three years of being clean from drugs.

    HALEE HEIRONIMUS / GAZETTE

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    Susan and Paul Hoisington, of Medina, share their son Dan Hoisington's story about his battle with addiction. Dan Hoisington died in May after taking two pills that were 100 percent fentanyl.

    HALEE HEIRONIMUS / GAZETTE

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    Jay Martin Wonkovich, 2, and his grandfather Jay Wonkovich hold a candle and participate in a moment of silence in light of those who died from drug overdose during a program held Thursday evening at Robby's Recovery Center. Jay Martin Wonkovich is Samantha Wonkovich's son.

    HALEE HEIRONIMUS / GAZETTE

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    Household supplies and toiletries are shown piled up in a corner of Robby's Recovery Center that will be donated to sobriety facilities Cathy's House in Medina and Bianco Accommodations in Akron.

    HALEE HEIRONIMUS / GAZETTE

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MEDINA — “The last thing that I said to her was ‘I’ll see you at your funeral.’ I didn’t see or talk to her for nine years until we buried her.”

That was part of a story Samantha Wonkovich, an assistant at Robby’s Recovery Center, shared about her sister, Kristen, who died March 5 of a drug overdose.

“She passed the day before my second child was born,” Wokovich said. “I can’t say I was in shock, because she struggled with drugs.”

Wonkovich was one of six speakers Thursday evening for a program at Robby’s Recovery Center on International Drug Overdose Awareness Day.

“But I learned a valuable lesson,” she said. “You cannot give up hope on those who are battling and those in recovery. Make sure you tell them you love them and keep them close to your heart.”

Wonkovich, who was a drug user herself, said there were multiple times she overdosed in an attempt to commit suicide.

“I was convinced people didn’t love me and I was thinking they would be better off when I was not around,” Wonkovich said. “Then, when I saw my family in distress at the funeral, I thought, ‘How selfish could I be?’ ”

Wonkovich is the mother of Jay Martin Wonkovich, 2, and Jacob Wonkovich, 5 months. She and her fianc←, Kyle Martin, reside in Strongsville.

On Nov. 5, she said, she will celebrate three years of sobriety.

The recovery center, packed with about 100 people, applauded Wonkovich for her success.

Like Wonkovich’s sister, the son of Medina residents Paul and Sue Hoisington died of an overdose.

On May 19, Sue Hoisington said her 24-year-old son, Dan, died of what she assumed was a heroin overdose. She later discovered from toxicology reports that he had consumed two pills that were 100 percent fentanyl.

“For us, the battle is over, but we’d gladly face the battle again if our son was here today,” she said, struggling to hold back tears.

The couple wore what they called their team jerseys that read “DH71” on the front and “Dan Hoisington” with the number 71 on the back. Dan Hoisington participated in motocross.

Sue Hoisington said her son’s addiction started after he got a broken leg from the racing sport.

Dan Hoisington, a 2011 graduate of Medina High School, was 10 months sober when he relapsed.

“I’m sick of hearing ‘This will never happen to our kids,’ or, ‘This will never happen to our family,’ ” Sue Hoisington said. “Use this time to educate others. With what’s being sold today, rock bottom may never come.”

During a candle-lighting ceremony to show unity and remember those who died, Stephanie Robinson, coordinator at the recovery center, said about 11 people die every day in Ohio of a drug overdose.

Eleven chimes sounded to recognize those individuals.

“There’s a lot of good and hope in this room that keeps us clean and keeps us going,” Robinson said. “I want to thank everyone here for having the courage, the hope and the strength to come out here today. Things are changing here … but we can’t forget those loved ones we lost and that are still battling.”

A corner of the center, which opened this summer at the former Medina Steak & Seafood Restaurant at 538 W. Liberty St., was filled with paper towels, toilet paper, laundry detergent, soap and other toiletries that will be donated to the sobriety facilities Cathy’s House in Medina and Bianco Accommodations, based in Akron.

The center offered pamphlets and brochures of various resources offered in Medina County and the groups Project DAWN, LCADA Way and Naranon had materials available at their tables.

Contact reporter Halee Heironimus at (330) 721-4012 or hheironimus@medina-gazette.com.



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