CHICOPEE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Several people came together to paint a plane in Chicopee today, but, for some parents, the day had an extra special meaning.

The plane was a special addition to the 5K run over at Westover this morning

Some families came out for the sole reason of honoring their loved one.

It's not your average plane with handprints and names written on the side of it.

"We are pretty much filled underneath the wing of the plane, on both sides, and over here as well," president and founder of Team Sharing Cheyl Juaire tells us.

Those names representing those that have died because of substance abuse.

The project was made possible thanks to a collaboration between Team Sharing, an organization of parents who lost a child from substance abuse, as well as Safe Launch, an organization whose mission is to educate young families about the risk of adolescent substance abuse.

"90% of people who are suffering from addiction today started or were exposed before they were eighteen," says Safe Launch co-founder Janet Wrose.

The organizers tell Western Mass News that they always invite young people to join in painting the plane.

"While painting the plane, we also have the opportunity to educate them and their families about staying away from drugs and alcohols," continued Wrose.

Although the names may just look like art to some, for others, it has a much different meaning.

"It was very emotional for us to see our children's names on the plane just because we also know of the epidemic and how bad it really is out there, and how important it is. We do come and we do help bring awareness," stated Juaire.

This is the 40th event that the organization has held in four years.

Although they typically fly around California, Ronald Cuff, co-founder of Safe Launch, says it is imporant to spread their message across the country.

"Even though it's treatable, treatment doesn't always work, and the best thing is to prevent it. It's 100% preventable," said Cuff.

In addition to educating younger people, the organizers say that being able to openly talk about the epidemic is another way to save lives.

Copyright 2019 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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