PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — One local woman is trying to make a difference after her nephew died from a fentanyl overdose.
Shari Young — a.k.a. Mrs. Portland 2022 — is using her pageant title to try and get businesses to carry a life-saving drug in the event of an overdose. Young spends most of her time visiting various businesses in the area with the sole mission of saving the lives of those who overdose on fentanyl.
“I can’t just walk into these businesses and say ‘Hi, I’m Shari Young, RN, can I talk to you about Narcan?’ but if I walk in as Mrs. Portland — it’s an immediate calling card.”
Young entered the pageant circuit a few years ago to meet people when she first moved to Portland.
Sadly, tragedy struck her family in 2021.
“I will never forget that my brother sounded like a wounded animal as he was telling me how he ‘did CPR and did CPR.’ He said he was just dead.”
Narcan could have saved her nephew, who had unknowingly taken a pill with a lethal amount of fentanyl in it.
Young says her nephew had had substance issues in the past, and her brother actually had tried to get Narcan from the pharmacy to be prepared. However, it was a rural pharmacy — and the workers didn’t realize that most states have so-called standing orders for Narcan or the pharmacist can prescribe it.
“Sometimes they don’t know and they send you away and tell you to get go get a prescription and that’s what happened in our case,” Young explained. “We didn’t have Narcan when my nephew passed because my brother was turned away.”
Washington state does have a standing order so you can walk in and get Narcan at the pharmacy. In Oregon, the pharmacist can prescribe it to you.
After Young was crowned as Mrs. Portland, she took her cause on the road, visiting as many businesses as she can. She’s armed herself with a Narcan nasal spray sample along with information about the drug.
The businesses she visits vary, but she is trying to get it in all bars — where people are sometimes mixing drugs with alcohol.
“In many ways, it would have been easier to jump in the grave with him,” she said. “But I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to share the information that I know to have.”
If Young can help just one person avoid going through the pain of losing someone, she says it’s worth it.