SOUTH PHILADELPHIA, PA -- Tony Luke Jr. is a household name in Philadelphia for the family's famous cheesesteak locations; but after losing his son, Tony Luke III, to a heroin overdose earlier this year, Tony Luke Jr. is putting his energy into raising awareness about the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Pledging his solidarity to the victims and families of heroin overdose, local entrepreneur and media personality Tony Luke Jr. announced an initiative aimed at heightening the awareness of removing social stigmas associated with use of the toxic drug.
“The fact is, no one and no family is immune from this horrible epidemic that is ruining so many lives,” says Tony. “Too often, heroin users are accused of moral failings. Heroin addiction is not a moral issue. It’s no different than other addictive substances, like alcohol or cocaine. To minimize such deaths on a moral level is just cruel to the survivors, and compounds their suffering and grief.”
Tony is encouraging anyone who has lost a loved one to heroin to create and wear a brown and white item (the two colors of heroin) and share it through social media, in schools, local businesses, etc., using the hashtag #BrownAndWhite.
The Canale family of south Philly heard about the "Brown and White movement" and wanted to get involved. They began making brown and white ribbons and selling them to their neighbors. So far there are 53 bows on neighboring stoops and doors. The youngest of four daughters, Toni Canale, lost her life on May 31 after years of an addiction. Her family says they fought alongside her as she checked in and out and rehab facilities.
Nicole Canale told PHL17, “Maybe just maybe hanging a silly little bow you are going to let somebody else know that they are not alone and maybe they will have a fighting chance. Maybe people won't look at them and point their fingers and make them more ashamed of themselves and what they already are.”
“There are many heroin awareness organizations and campaigns that are performing essential work in the realm of education and treatment,” he says. “#BrownAndWhite is intended to change the institutional perception that heroin users somehow deserve their fate.”
He emphasizes that the #BrownAndWhite initiative is not designed to be a charity, but a platform to launch conversations between survivors and the general public.
For more info on the Canale family's effort to raise awareness, click here.