Seminole Showdown: Wrestlers Raise Money to Fight Opioid Addiction

WrestleMania started Saturday in Tampa, but a much different kind of wrestling event drew crowds in Seminole County.

It's more than just a show of might; it’s meant to show the community how Seminole County is fighting against something much bigger than the competition in this ring.

What You Need To Know

  • Wrestling event raised money to fight opioid crisis in Seminole County

  • Longwood Mayor (and former WWE star) Matt Morgan competed

  • Sheriff: 109 people died last year from opioid overdose in the county

The Seminole Showdown featured two fighters – raising money for the battle against Central Florida’s opioid crisis.

 “We know that people have turned to their substance of choice at a greater level than ever before," Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said, explaining that 109 people died from opioid overdoses last year in Seminole County alone. 

“Honestly, when you look at this epidemic, it is the problem that occurred before COVID-19. We knew back three years ago, 19 people in the state of Florida were losing their lives because they were addicted to some opioid, and now the numbers are even higher.”

Lemma stood on the sidelines of this match, but he stood at the forefront of an effort to bring a “Hope & Healing Center” to town. It helps people who are recovering from opioid addiction.

Tim Cook, CEO of AdventHealth in Seminole County, worked with Lemma on the project, forming an uncommon public-private partnership with the purpose of serving anyone.

“There are places that take care of people who have addiction problems, but there really isn’t a place that’s easy for everybody regardless of your background, your insurance," Cook said.

“We knew that having a Hope & Healing Center directly across from our correctional facility, where a vulnerable population was, was so important," Lemma added.

One of these wrestlers – former WWE star and current Longwood Mayor Matt Morgan – is no stranger to fighting against opioids. He once fought for his light after surviving an overdose.

Now, he’s fighting to help others win that battle. 

“Part of the challenge of this is the stigma around it," Cook said. "When people are in crisis, they don’t know what to do and they don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want people to know. So, when someone like Matt steps up and others … it allows people to be comfortable and it allows other people to embrace them. And by that, people find hope.”

The event was hosted by Leadership Seminole.

The Hope and Healing Center officially opened last month in Sanford.​

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