Tackling an Epidemic

Cleveland’s Stephen Walters focuses on fighting the opioid crisis

Published in 2017 Ohio Super Lawyers — January 2017

When Stephen E. Walters began hearing—more and more frequently—about the growing crisis of opioid addiction, the managing partner at Reminger in Cleveland, Ohio, decided he couldn’t read another tragic headline without stepping up to help.

“Deaths from opioid overdoses nationwide have skyrocketed in the past decade,” notes Walters. “There are so many alarming statistics, it is hard to cite just one study. Most recently I read that at least 4,149 Ohioans died from unintentional drug overdoses in 2016, a 36 percent increase from the previous year. Coroners are predicting that fatalities in 2017 are outpacing 2016. 

“We have seen the ravaging effects of addiction in the news. We have felt it close to home, right here in our community. Ohio has been very hard-hit in particular, along with Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.”

Walters believed Reminger’s charitable foundation, funded by its attorneys, staff and friends of the firm, could make a difference. “We want to help those who are stationed on the front line treating this disease,” he says. “Our Reminger Foundation has awarded $20,000 in charitable contributions this year to several Northeast Ohio-area nonprofits that are dedicated to providing treatment and recovery services for drug abuse and addiction.”

The epidemic hit close to home. “One employee had a son who passed away from an overdose this summer, right about the time the foundation was making a decision to target opioid addiction,” Walters notes. “Tragically, another one of our employees also lost a son very recently. He had been struggling to fight his addiction but was unable to overcome the disease. We are heartbroken for these parents, these families.”

One of the parents sent a thank-you card to the firm. It read, “Addiction does not discriminate. It affects everyone, in every socioeconomic status. If I can help just one family avoid the heartbreak and devastation of losing a child, his death would bring something positive.”

Walters acknowledges there is much work to be done. “I am grateful that we have been able to support these organizations through our foundation, and hope to continue to demonstrate our support to this cause,” he says. “But my hope is that, through the collective efforts of the community, our healthcare providers and our government, we are able to address and conquer this crisis.

“We hope that, through the use of foundation funds, we are able to not only increase awareness of the disease of addiction, but also to help save lives right here in our own backyard,” he says. “It seemed like the right thing to do at the right time.”

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