Institute Director Doug Edwards (center), accompanied by University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto (left), presents Congressman Hal Rogers with the Beacon of Hope Award at the 2018 National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit. Photographer: Chris Williams Zoeica Images

The ongoing effort to combat drug addiction requires a multidisciplinary approach involving stakeholders from all aspects of society. Many leaders have emerged in this movement, and in 2018 the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit decided to annually recognize a change maker tackling this epidemic. The inaugural award was presented to Congressman Hal Rogers of Kentucky.

From Kentucky’s Fifth District to the entire United States and now to the international stage, Congressman Rogers continues to push for a safer and cleaner society. His efforts to implement prescription drug monitoring programs, provide access to effective and affordable treatment, and remove dangerous drugs from the streets have benefited communities from coast to coast. His vision led to the founding of Operation UNITE, which not only serves 32 counties in Eastern Kentucky but spreads a message of hope and perseverance across the United States. It was Congressman Rogers’ leadership and Operation UNITE’s initiative that led to the first Summit in 2012.

After presenting the award to Congressman Rogers in 2018, the Summit announced that the award would subsequently be known as the Congressman Hal Rogers Beacon of Hope Award. There are countless leaders and champions in this fight who have taken glimmers of hope and have turned them into brilliant beacons for their communities, and annually the Summit will shine a spotlight on one of these heroes.