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Festival of Hope planned to honor the life of Hannah Fordham and others lost to addiction

The inaugural Festival of Hope will be held at Mill Creek Park on Saturday, September 3, from 10am-2pm.
HannahsHope2-SuzyFordham
Suzy Fordham, second from right, founded the Hannah’s Hope Foundation in memory of her daughter, Hannah Jane Fordham, who died from a drug overdose in 2019. She will host the inaugural Festival of Hope on September 3. Credit: Suzy Fordham

There are few things in this world stronger than a mother’s love. And Suzy Fordham of Fordham’s Farmhouse is the living proof of this fact of life. Suzy continues to turn her personal pain into power after the sudden loss of her daughter, Hannah Jane Fordham, back in August 2019 to a drug overdose.

Hannah was a graduate of the Southeast Bulloch High School Class of 2013 and a bright light in the Statesboro community. She was known for her free-spirit, sharp mind, and uninhibited fervor for life.

One of the ways Suzy is choosing to continue her daughter’s legacy is through this year’s inaugural Festival of Hope.

Festival will honor all lost to overdose and addiction

The Festival of Hope will be a free event on Saturday, September 3, 2022, from 10:00am-2:00pm at Mill Creek Park. The goal of the event is to bring awareness to the conversation surrounding substance abuse disease.

The event will commence with a walk around the park at 10:00am, and the walk will symbolize the honoring of those lost to any forms of drug overdose and addictions. The walk will end with its participants walking into a field with music, food vendors, entertainment, and resource tables for additional support and information regarding drug overdose prevention and recovery.

But one could symbolically see this walk’s completion as walkers treading through a long and winding journey of substance abuse battles into a field of hope, recovery,
and fun.

September is also National Recovery Month. So Suzy found it the perfect time to kick off the festival inspired by her daughter. This is especially poignant given that it comes a month after the anniversary of Hannah’s passing 3 years ago.

Fordham (left) with friends and supporters in 2021 (Photo Courtesy: Suzy Fordham)

Power and passion in purple

Purple is the international color of overdose awareness. So, attendees can expect to see a sea of purple shirts, decorations, and signs when they arrive, and may even be
greeted with some purple paraphernalia to wear and display as well.

Suzy’s impassioned memorial walk for Hannah began back in September 2020 with a group of family and friends, but it has now transformed into a full-on festival of Hannah’s spirit.

Suzy’s intentions in creating a safe space and bringing hope to the Statesboro community in the fight against substance abuse disease have truly been a trailblazing act.

Suzy wants to be clear that this festival will not only honor Hannah’s life, but also the lives of so many which have been lost to overdose, addiction, and unexpressed secrets that continue to create destructive habits in the lives of individuals everywhere.

Suzy noted that the work and achievement she has made thus far in highlighting overdose awareness in our community would have not been possible without Charlotte Spell, Project Director of the Bulloch Alcohol and Drug Council, Catherine Tootle, Executive Director of the Freedom Through Recovery Foundation, and Sydney Hardee, Freedom Through Recovery spokesperson and advocate.

The Bulloch Alcohol and Drug Council secured funding for the festival through a generous grant from the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health, without which this year's event would not be possible.

Participants at the 2021 walk (Photo Courtesy: Suzy Fordham)

Hope for recovery

Although Hannah's substance abuse challenges seemed to overcome her in the end, the beauty and impact of her life can never be erased.

Hannah Jane Fordham, 1995-2019

Suzy’s deepest wish is that through this Festival of Hope, people will be touched by Hannah’s story and by the stories of those who recovered from their disease, as well. And ultimately, through the festival's fun and entertainment, Suzy wants the attendees to gain a feeling of what the light at the end of the tunnel can truly feel like.

“I want to take the stigma away from discussions surrounding substance abuse disease," Fordham said. "There is a need for support, a need for awareness, and a need for people to talk about it out loud. If I can just touch one individual’s life during this Festival of Hope, I will truly have accomplished what I have set out to achieve. That is, spreading the message of substance abuse disease prevention and a hope for recovery.”

For more information on the Hannah’s Hope Foundation and additional grief support groups that may be available or to participate in the event as a vendor or sponsor, please reach out to Suzy Fordham by email at suzyqfordham@rocketmail.com.