The Hoops for Hope BBQ is a community-driven fundraiser whose mission is to combat the deadly drug epidemic on Long Island. Deaths caused by fentanyl, heroin, and prescription pain medications have continued to increase since 2001. In 2016, Suffolk County saw more opioid-related deaths than any other county in the entire state of New York: According to the medical examiner's office, there were 303 opioid-related deaths. In fact, there is only one truth that accompanies untreated opioid addiction: unimaginable pain, until death. For those of us who have been forced to bear witness, we know that the evil nature of opioid abuse now dwells deep in the roots of our communities. This evil feeds, first and foremost, on the members of our communities who have become dependent on opioids. We must always remember how earnestly these individuals strive for freedom against their addiction; and we must not forget how much these individuals suffer in their striving. From the suffering of these individuals, the evil of the opioid epidemic spreads its pain outward, to those who know and love the individuals battling against opioids. The suffering spreads to the parents, who feel helpless as they watch their children fight an apparently never-ending battle against a tireless enemy. It spreads to the siblings, who must watch as someone they have grown up with grows away from them. The suffering spreads to the grandparents, children, aunts, uncles, cousins, teachers, and friends, who are forced to watch bright futures collapse into the dark night of active addiction. The death and suffering brought upon by the opioid epidemic will only increase – unless we take action. The Hoops for Hope BBQ represents the action of a community against opioid addiction. The opioid epidemic will no longer be pushed into the shadows. We believe that all of us are connected and that we are responsible for restoring the health and joy that drugs such as heroin and fentanyl have taken away from our communities. But how do we fight against such an enemy? What is to be done? With the Hoops for Hope BBQ, we actively respond to this question in two fundamental ways. 1.) We donate the money that we raise to Hope House Ministries, a local non-profit organization dedicated to providing compassionate care and resources to individuals battling drug addiction. Since the heroin epidemic first began to plague our communities, Hope House has continuously striven to provide struggling addicts with a safe place to live and an educational recovery program. These values of Hope House – creating safe spaces that provide addicts with the opportunity to overcome their addiction, and using education as a means of waging war against the drug epidemic – align closely with our own values. Nevertheless, the sad truth is that the facilities at Hope House are not nearly large enough to accommodate the number of individuals who are seeking help for their addiction. According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, only 10.8% of people aged 12 or older who need substance use treatment receive treatment at a specialty facility. With the money that we raise, our goal is to provide Hope House Ministries with the necessary funds such that they are able to create more space for individuals seeking help. 2.) We affirm the truth that the only antidote to death is life. We define life as the continuous triumph over disintegration. Therefore our mission is to combat the deadly drug epidemic by celebrating life. We affirm the truth that love is the engine of positive change. And we recognize that love only grows where there is connection and unity. Thus, we fight addiction with love. These affirmations take the form of a community BBQ, coupled with a 3v3 basketball tournament. By bringing ourselves together in love, remembering those we have lost, and raising money such that more concrete action can be done in the future, we wage war against drugs. We believe that those we have lost to drug addiction are still with us, reminding us that action needs to be taken. By celebrating the lives that have been lost to the past, we hope to bring life to the future. While the origin that produced the Hoops for Hope BBQ is tragic, the end that we envision for ourselves is the opposite of tragic. Those we have lost to drug addiction are still with us. Those who are presently battling drug addiction are still with us. And those adults, young adults, teenagers, and children who will face the temptation to use drugs in the future are still with us. It is for all of these people, and anyone else who either has lost or is beginning to lose hope, that the Hoops for Hope BBQ hopes to show that happiness and health are still attainable, even after the horrors of drug addiction. We posit these truths as primary. That both love and evil are real forces in the world. That life is love and death is evil. That the future is undetermined and dependent on decisions made in the present. And that the struggles of one are the struggles of all. No matter how rotten or tragic the present circumstances, everything is a seed waiting for our love, so that it can grow into a better future. Please help us in any way that you can. Let us transform the tears of our community into the creation of a future community free from the evils of opioid addiction.