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Lauren’s Birthday Bash raises funds for addiction center opening soon

Over 150 people attended Lauren’s Birthday Bash at Tropics Bar and Restaurant Thursday night to raise funds for the soon to open Lauren’s Wish Addiction Triage Center at Hazel’s House of Hope in Morgantown.

Michael Cole, the founder and chairman of Lauren’s Wish and father of the organization’s namesake, Lauren Cole, said that all of the events the nonprofit has held this year have been completely sold out.

Cole said that community support for the organization has been overwhelming and shows that area residents really step up “once they understand who you are and what you are and what you’re about.”

Tickets to the event got you dinner and a drink ticket, as well as entertainment by musician  Marshall Lowry and an appearance from members of the WVU basketball team.

Attendees also had the opportunity to bid on auction items which included everything from signed WVU sports memorabilia to an adorable golden retriever puppy that really stole the show.

“Two things [Lauren] wanted was to help those who are suffering,” Cole said, “and to buy a farm and take all the rescue dogs.”  

Cole said the puppy was a last minute idea for the event and time did allow them to organize something with a local animal rescue, but next year they are hoping to use the opportunity to help a few of the dogs waiting for homes.

“I think rescue is the way to go because that is her second desire,” he said.

For now the organization is focusing on their mission of helping those suffering from substance abuse disorders and educating the community about the disease that does not discriminate and often ends lives – as it did Lauren’s who suffered from addiction until July 2020 when she was sold a lethal dose of fentanyl.

“She told me a few weeks before she passed that there are so many kids and people that are  struggling with substance abuse and want help, but they don’t have the resources or family to get it,” Cole said.  “She wondered if one day when I retired if she and I could do something about it.

“And I said ‘Yeah, yes I will.’  Unfortunately Lauren relapsed three weeks later and passed from fentanyl poisoning,” he said.  “So, that’s how Lauren’s Wish came about.”

Cole said the new triage center was delayed slightly when the roof was blown off of the old Ramada Inn building where Hazel’s House of Hope is located, but they are hoping the center will be opening by the end of September.

“We are doing some fine tuning right now, but we have hired staff and are basically ready to go,” he said.

The recovery center will help those in the intermediate stages of recovery which is an area of recovery and treatment process the Cole family recognized was lacking.

When people would go to the emergency room for a substance abuse issue, Cole said, they would be released as soon as they were medically stable.  

“They were released right back into the same environment that put them there,” he said.

Treatment centers can take some time to get into and it can take weeks before a bed becomes readily available, leaving those in recovery to navigate on their own.

Lauren’s Wish Addiction Triage Center will offer those suffering from addiction a free place to go while they await placement in a longer term treatment center.

“It’s going to happen and it’s going to make a difference,” Cole said.  “The amount of people who contact us on a weekly basis — it’s heartbreaking.

“We are more known now than we were a year ago.  Believe it or not we have people reaching out to us from out of state to see if we can accept them — I recently had a guy from Indiana call and was willing to drive his son from Indiana to us.”

Because the triage center will be offered at no cost, Lauren’s Wish relies on donations from the community to continue their mission.  For more information, visit or follow the organization on social media @laurenswishwv. 

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