A South Carolina woman has arrived in Key West, completing a 2,575-mile walk to create awareness of the opioid overdose crisis.
Jessie Grieb ended her journey on the East Coast Overdose Awareness Walk Friday at the Southernmost Point in the Continental U.S. marker. The date marks the fourth anniversary of her brother Brian’s death from an accidental overdose. Grieb also lost a boyfriend to heroin and has struggled herself with addiction since she was 17.
The Pawleys Island resident started her trek in Fort Kent, Maine, July 28, 2018, after she had suffered a relapse.
“I just hope this can inspire people, you know, that are dealing with addiction and grief,” Grieb said. “I’ve been struggling with both of those things for years now, and it’s just a matter of not giving up and keep pushing forward.”
Throughout her journey, Grieb overnighted in police and fire stations as well as with friends and supporters. Sometimes she camped in parks and on bike trails.
“Every mile that I walked, two people in this country will die from overdose,” she said. “Last year we lost over 72,000 people, which is more than the Vietnam war itself.
“It’s getting up to over 100 — almost 200 — people every day that are dying from this,” she added.
Supporters accompanying her to the Southernmost Point carried banners bearing photos of nearly 500 overdose victims.
To help carry supplies, Grieb towed a small cart named “Lieutenant Dan” in honor of the “Forrest Gump” character who dealt with addiction in the movie. The cart also carried “Dakota,” a dog she adopted in South Carolina.
After she arrived, Key West Mayor Teri Johnston presented Grieb with a symbolic key to the city.