INDIAN HILL, Ohio — An Indian Hill family is trying to break the stigma associated with heroin addiction by raising money to help those looking for resources.
The Harness and Gray families lost a brother and a son to addiction during the pandemic, so they weren’t able to hold a funeral. They created a fundraiser – Haircuts Over Heroin – as a way to memorialize Whit Harness, a young man who loved his hair.
“I remember playing lots of games like Super Mario Galaxy all the time,” Whit’s sister Memrie Harness said. “Going outside and doing lots of fun stuff with him. He’s a great person."
Whit’s father, Bob, said he was one of a kind.
“The people who knew him loved him,” Bob Harness said.
Like many who suffer from addiction, Whit Harness lost his battle, and died in the summer of 2020.
“He was a good person of good heart, with good intention, and wanted to be a good human being,” Bob Harness said.
With no way to safely honor their loved one during the pandemic, the Harness family came up with a unique way to give back: They are raising money online for a haircut raffle.
“When we reached out to people, we realized that everyone had a connection to this heroin epidemic, so we thought that this idea would be a great way to connect the community and spread awareness about this addiction and also just do something honorable for my brother,” Mamie said.
Each $20 raffle ticket buys a chance to get an appointment with more than a dozen stylists. The money raised will benefit the Cincinnati Center for Addiction Treatment. They offer resources to help people overcome addiction.
“The worst place for an addict or an alcoholic is to be alone in between their own ears,” Cincinnati Center for Addiction Treatment CEO Chellie McClellan said. “The social isolation that the pandemic brought really exacerbated and in some ways inflamed the disease.”
That’s why the Harness family said they’re doing this – to make sure no other family endures the pain they’ve suffered.
“We all as members of society have a responsibility to do what we can in the face of such an intractable enemy, which is what addiction is,” Bob said.
Raffle tickets cost $20 each and can be found at Haircuts Over Heroin’s Facebook page.