Madison’s Joe Deane was a star lacrosse player who could recognize plays before they happened, a strapping guy who protected kids from bullies, a charismatic figure who changed the air in any room he entered, his mother Lisa Deane remembered.
He also released himself from the clutches of addiction until an accidental fentanyl overdose in December 2018 ended his life, his mother said.
On Monday, Aug. 31, the signature of Deane was among the 78 on the Rising Unity sculpture unveiled on the occasion of International Opioid Awareness Day in Hartford.
“Fentanyl and all of its opioid analogs are helping to ruin our chances of helping the addicted to realize sobriety in time,” said Deane, founder of Demand Zero, which was created “to bring the deadly drug supply and the dealing of those drugs to a halt in New Haven and the shoreline,” as its Facebook page reads.
Deane, along with a committee that includes Fiona Firine and Isabelle Firine, Tory Cornell, and Kelsey Handelman, commissioned the New Haven design Atelier Cue to make the sculpture, which is in the form of a phoenix.
It honors Deane, as well as Cameron Herr, Michael Gagnon, “and their fellow angels taken from us by the disease of addiction,” she told the crowd of 125 gathered on the steps of the Capitol building, many with photos of their loved ones lost to overdose.
“Today we are spreading the message that the tragedy of overdose deaths is preventable and the stigma of overdose deaths must be reduced,” said State Sen. George Logan, R-Ansonia.
Deane said that since the unveiling there has been increased interest on the part of families to have their loved one’s signatures included on the sculpture.
For more information, visit Demand ZERO on Facebook.