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Couple works to raise overdose awareness

DeKALB – Malta resident Tom Jergens hopes to help at least one person this weekend with their Cornfest booth about drug overdose awareness.

Jergens’ wife, Brenda, is offering free pamphlets, pens and ribbons to anyone who stops by her purple tent. Guests may also sign a “memories” board about a loved one lost to a drug overdose or a “hope” board for those still struggling with addiction.

“Quite a few people come here,” Tom Jergens said. “If one person comes here, whether they’re local or out of town, hopefully it spreads. You’ve got to start somewhere.”

The Jergens’ lost their own son, Kurt Hudson, 28, to a heroin overdose Sept. 29. Since then, Brenda Jergens has been active in trying to spread awareness of the issue. She made about 200 purple ribbons preparing for Cornfest.

Sunday is International Overdose Awareness Day. Events will take place this weekend across the United States, Australia, Ireland, Canada, the United Kingdom and India to bring attention to the issue.

The drug awareness tent will be up from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday along Lincoln Highway near Fourth Street in DeKalb. T-shirts are being sold for $20.

This isn’t the only drug awareness event the Jergens family is hosting. Brenda Jergens has organized an overdose awareness and prayer vigil at 7 p.m. Sept. 6 at the DeKalb County Courthouse, 133 W. State St., Sycamore. Multiple speakers including DeKalb County Board Chairman Jeff Metzger (R-Sandwich), DeKalb County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Gary Dumdie and Presiding Judge Robbin Stuckert will participate.

Tom Jergens stressed the importance of bringing attention to addiction. He said five of his eight siblings struggle with alcoholism. Any time he tries to talk to them about their problems, they deny they have any, he said.

Tom Jergens said he has never struggled with addiction. Before dealing with his son’s heroin addiction, he thought people with addictions could easily snap out of it. Now he knows it’s a disease.

“It’s puzzling how it works,” he said. “It takes over your brain, and it never goes away.”

James R. Parsons, formerly of Chicago but now homeless, personally understands alcohol addiction. He was at Cornfest on Friday and thanked Brenda Jergens for her efforts.

Parsons said he attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting Friday morning before he attended Cornfest. He wore a purple ribbon Brenda Jergens made on his shirt.

“It’s important,” Parsons said. “It’s saving lives.”

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