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'They're not going to be forgotten' | Blount Co. memorial tree honors those lost to addiction

For the second year in a row, Jan McCoy and Tim Webb organized an overdose memorial tree in Blount County.

BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. — For Jan McCoy, the holidays are a tough time of year.

"There's still a big hole, big void that you can't fill," McCoy said. "Six years later, the holidays still hurt."

Her son, Dane, died of an overdose six years ago. Since then, she's made it her mission to help others battling addiction.

"I want his legacy to be helping others that are going through addiction find recovery," McCoy said. "By doing things like this, it shows my love for my son and helps other parents realize that recovery is possible."

For the second year in a row, she and Tim Webb organized a memorial tree for those lost to addiction. 

"It's to bring awareness that we do still have a drug epidemic," McCoy said. "It's also so that our loved ones' life wasn't in vain, that there was a purpose for them."

She hung a snowman ornament on the tree in honor of her son.

Credit: WBIR

Tim Webb lost his daughter to addiction two years ago — just months after losing his ex-wife to the same disease. He brought his granddaughter, Baylee, to help decorate the tree on Saturday.

"It talks about how you lost a loved one," 6-year-old Baylee said. "I put two red birds on the tree because my mom and grandma loved birds."

Each ornament, like the two Baylee hung, represents someone lost to addiction.

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"There's a superstition that if you see a red bird in your yard or anywhere, that it's a loved one coming back to visit," Webb said. "That's why we picked the red birds — because her mom will always be here."

Like McCoy, Tim Webb has devoted himself to helping fight the overdose crisis. He even wrote a book about what he learned from his daughter's struggle with addiction.

"Something's got to be done about this problem," he said. "They're not going to be forgotten. They are going to be remembered."