Dynamite Youth Center hosts 20th Annual Walk-a-thon in Bay Ridge

Putting an end to drug use, one step at a time.

Dynamite Youth Center (DYC), a Brooklyn based, New York State-licensed, not-for-profit, long-term, adolescent substance abuse treatment program hosted its 20th annual Walk-a-thon on Sunday, October 1.

The day, which served as a fundraiser and a way to raise awareness, began at the 69th Street Pier and included one of the group’s biggest crowds ever, around 250-300 people.

Patti Vignapiano, a Dyker Heights resident and DYC volunteer whose son Joseph is in the program which has a facility in Fallsburg and a day treatment center on Coney Island Avenue, discussed the significance of the day.

“The opioid and drug issue has hit epidemic stages so that’s why this year, more than ever, we were trying to get any type of coverage to spread awareness of this,” she said. “Years ago, there was more of a stigma. People were more embarrassed by it, but there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. My son is in the program and he’s going to be completing a year this month. He’s been upstate already one year.”

Program participants, staff, friends and family all partook in the walk that wended its way from the pier to the Verrazano Bridge and back as they sported tie dye shirts.

“We had a carnival theme this year where we had free popcorn, face painting and cotton candy. The kids in the program have their own band that plays live music, and State Senator Marty Golden spoke,” Vignapiano said. “It was entertaining. One of the children in the program opened the ceremony with “The Star Spangled Banner” — we have very talented kids that are part of program.”

The day held much significance for Vignapiano as it represents the progress her son has made in the program.

“It meant a lot to us as a family because, at the very beginning, this was something we hid from people. We didn’t want anyone to know we had a son in the program and we didn’t know how to deal with it,” she said. “Thanks to Dynamite, we go to meetings every week, they show us how to deal with it and accept it, and we’re not the only ones. Let’s get this out in the open and more kids into recovery. I am proud to be part of it. Before I was the one hiding. Now I can say my son has been in recovery for almost 12 months and doing well. We expect he will be coming home in the next two months and he will start the next phase of it.

If you have a child that needs help, you’re not alone,” Vignapiano added. “There’s a long term program out there. Whether you have insurance or not, they will take your child.”

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