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Minnesota Overdose Awareness Day marked by vigils, remembrance

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Minnesota Overdose Awareness Day was more than just a square on the calendar, with family of victims, survivors and those suffering from addiction gathering in somber vigils to remember those lost Monday evening.

One such vigil was at the Fargo-Moorhead area's Veterans Memorial Bridge, where organizers set out 120 pairs of shoes – one pair for each person lost to overdose in the U.S. every day, Valley News Live reports.

The station says attendees – including a 25-year-old woman describing herself as a heroin user – shared stories of addiction and loss, while Moorhead Mayor Del Rae Williams acknowledged a "growing drug problem" in the region.

Another was held at a church in Minneapolis, where drug treatment center Valhalla Place held its fifth annual candlelight vigil, MPR News reports.

Valhalla described the event as a "gathering to mourn" overdose deaths and "raise awareness to prevent further tragedy."

That was the intent behind Gov. Mark Dayton's move on Monday to proclaim Aug. 31 "Minnesota Overdose Awareness Day," which is similar to the international version held every year, WCCO said.

The proclamation comes at a troubling time for the state, which has seen a disturbing trend in opiate-related deaths recently – the Department of Health reported in 2014 that overdoses claimed the lives of more Minnesotans than auto accidents did the previous year.

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