Remembering

Bonnie McNamara poses for a photo at Mussel Rock with mementos of her son who passed away from an overdose. Adam Pardee / Tribune

Bonnie McNamara wants to spread awareness about an opioid epidemic that is an ongoing public health crisis. It’s also a personal battle for her and for many on the coast.

With Charles Trexler, she organized an overdose awareness motorcycle run set for Aug. 28.

It starts at 10:30 a.m. at Red’s Java House on Pier 30 in San Francisco and goes around the bay. It ends with a barbecue about noon at the Pacifica Moose Lodge. San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa plans to attend the event. The Jim Moore Band will provide entertainment and John the Sign Guy will donate services. Moose members and friends will volunteer to decorate and serve the guest riders.

The next event is 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 31 on Westline Drive at the picnic table area at Mussel Rock Park in Daly City. This is a fifth annual overdose awareness event. Jennifer Sisson began hosting after losing her friend Kerry to an overdose. There will be speakers who have lost friends and family to addiction, resources and educational speakers ending in a candlelight vigil. Bring your own chair and wear a mask, Sisson said.

“The memorial tells the story of who these people are. This is a dark subject, but you get a lot more education and resources,” she said. “The number of photos and names has grown, especially in 2020. More people died from an overdose. This is a way to support the families who want to memorialize someone,” she said.

McNamara’s son, Bobby Corona Gonzaba, was active at Terra Nova High School and Pacifica National Little League. He died at age 36 from a fentanyl overdose, she said. She successfully got federal authorities to shut down a doctor who had been prescribing fentanyl and oxycodone to her son for several years, she said. The doctor was indicted for negligence, but died before he could serve a sentence, she said.

“It’s important we spread the word about fentanyl, which is killing hundreds of young Americans. This one pill is on the rise in staggering numbers,” McNamara said. “I want to bring awareness to each household.”

Since then she has heard of many other cases of young people taking fentanyl and dying.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that synthetic opioids including fentanyl appear to be the primary driver of overdose deaths, which increased nationwide more than 38 percent between May 2019 and May 2020. Over that period:

t37 of the 38 U.S. jurisdictions with available synthetic opioid data reported increases in synthetic opioid-involved overdose deaths.

t18 of these jurisdictions reported increases greater than 50 percent.

t10 western states reported more than a 98 percent increase in synthetic opioid-involved deaths.

McNamara wants to help stem the tide. “I want to be loud and spread awareness,” she said about participating in the motorcycle run.

Co-organizer Trexler lost a family member and friends to overdose. He said they are expecting about 100-150 motorcycle riders.

“I’m in recovery. We lost a lot of newcomers to overdose. I lost a niece. Fentanyl killed 90,000 people last year,” he said. “With fentanyl they can die on the first try. I speak at schools to children about what happened to me. On the internet, they sell drugs to the kids. We are going to raise awareness by riding around. We want people to be aware of this huge problem and to be part of the solution.” 

This version changes the name of the entertainment to the Jim Moore Band and corrects the relationship between Jennifer Sisson and her friend Kerry.

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