Teamsters pledge $1.4 million to heroin awareness nonprofit

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Teamsters from around the country have pledged at least $1.4 million to a new Akron nonprofit set up to raise awareness about heroin addiction.

The Akron Beacon Journal reports ( ) the pledges came at the union’s international convention in Las Vegas following a talk by Travis Bornstein, who heads Teamsters Local 24 in Akron.

Bornstein spoke to thousands of convention-goers about the 2014 heroin death of his 23-year-old son, Tyler. Bornstein and two other families created Breaking Barriers — Hope Is Alive to honor the memory of Tyler and two others who died of heroin overdoses.

After the speech, in which he recounted how his son became addicted to heroin after being prescribed painkillers following surgery and was eventually found dead in a vacant lot, many in the audience began to pledge donations to the nonprofit and Teamsters President James Hoffa brought Bornstein and his family back on stage.

“It’s unbelievable,” Bornstein said, noting the nonprofit had about $10,000 in the bank prior to his morning talk. “Someone took the (microphone) and said we want to make a donation. On and on it went. $1.4 million … it kind of took off.”

Many “big tough Teamsters guys were tearing up,” said Teamsters press secretary Kara Deniz, who added that the pledges were completely unexpected and delayed the convention by more than an hour.

Bornstein said the money will be used in Summit County and others with the nonprofit will consult with county officials to decide what to do with it.

“Obviously the need is for treatment,” Bornstein said. “We’re going to make a difference. We’re just going to put a plan together. We’re going to use this money to fight this epidemic right here in Summit County.


Information from: Akron Beacon Journal,