Aug 26, 2022 - News

Saving lives via music festivals

Two non-profit founders are seen at a music festival table distributing free naloxone.
Columbus residents William Perry and Ingela Travers-Hayward distribute free naloxone at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Tennessee. Photo courtesy of This Must Be The Place

A local husband and wife are turning music lovers into lifesavers at festivals nationwide.

The big picture: South Siders William Perry and Ingela Travers-Hayward founded nonprofit This Must Be The Place this year with a goal of preventing drug overdoses through the arts.

  • Their first project: distributing 10,000 doses of free naloxone nasal spray, which quickly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

Why it matters: Overdose deaths have soared to record highs nationwide, fueled by an influx of fentanyl.

  • Over 100,000 people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2021 — more than any other year on record, per the National Center for Health Statistics.
  • More naloxone on hand means more chances to save a life.

What's happening: Perry and Travers-Hayward, along with their corgi mascot MarMar, have a booth at this weekend's WonderBus Music & Arts Festival. They'll have over 1,500 doses on hand to distribute for free.

  • The two educate festival attendees on how to administer naloxone and spot overdose signs.
  • Their nine-stop 2022 tour finishes at Burning Man in Nevada over Labor Day Weekend.

How it works: The nonprofit obtains reversal drugs through donations and health departments, including Ohio's Project DAWN.

  • Their broader goal is to eliminate barriers like cost, transportation and stigma that might keep people from obtaining naloxone themselves from a pharmacy or health department.

Context: The mission strikes a personal chord with Perry, a rehabilitation counselor who overcame addiction and watched friends die from it.

  • He now takes comfort in receiving messages from concertgoers who later reversed overdoses, including one who described reviving a stranger in a park.

What they're saying: "I couldn't do anything about those situations, but now I have the experience and the knowhow to help other people not have to go through it," Perry tells Axios.

  • "It's our belief that everyone should be walking around with this stuff," Travers-Hayward says.

What's next: The hope is to someday expand This Must Be The Place to chapters nationwide.

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