MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (WNCT) – May 9th is Fentanyl Awareness Day, a way to shed light on the dangerous drug taking the lives of so many.

One Carteret County mother, Mary Warstler, hosted a walk in memory of her son Daniel, who recently passed away in December as a direct result of fentanyl.

“Daniel tried very hard to get clean and stay clean,” said Warstler. “I held on to him as hard as I could until he took his last breath, and then I left there, and I was heartbroken and forever changed.”

Following Daniel’s death, Mary said she had very few friends reach out to her due to the negative connotation around drugs.

“Nobody wakes up and wants to be addicted to substances, there’s no reason to be ashamed,” she said. “This is something we need to talk about. The stigma stops a lot of people from going into treatment.”

She said she’s made new friends that understand and support her through the tough times, helping her put one foot in front of the other each and every day.

The Carteret County Sheriff’s Office said there are so many others in similar situations.

“This year, we’ve had eight overdose deaths up to this point in our county,” said Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck.

Due to the growing number, Mary wanted to make a change.

“Fentanyl is in everything,” said Warstler. “We, as a community, have to work together with the leaders in our community to try and solve this problem. It’s a huge problem”

Step by step, hundreds walked the trail, all people who knew someone struggling with addiction or just wanted to be a part of supporting Mary’s mission.

“If I can save one mom from the horror of losing a child or one person that’s on the cusp of picking up a needle, then I’ve done something great, and I hope that was the case,” she said.

Mary said she hopes to create a support group for others who have a loved one struggling with addiction and need someone to talk to.