ROCHESTER - When a Rochester facility dedicated to helping drug addicted pregnant women celebrates its one-year anniversary on Thursday, the woman who helped inspire its creation won't be there.
Abi Lizotte, whose inspirational battle against drug addiction came front and center as the center announced its founding a year ago, has died, according to the Hope on Haven Hill website.
"The loss of Abi Lizotte has left us utterly heartbroken," the message on its home page reads. "Abi will always be our inspiration and her light will live in the dreams and aspirations of all who pass through our doors. We honor Abi's memory through our daily resolve to cultivate the hope that makes recovery possible. Because as Abi exhibited, all people matter."
Neither the circumstances nor time of her death was announced.
Lizotte spoke at several events as the facility prepared to open, including with co-founders Kerry Norton, a registered nurse, and Dr. Colene Arnold, an obstetrician/gynecologist; as well as former U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.
She also shared her story of drug addiction with students at Somersworth High School.
Lizotte, whose older sister died of a drug overdoes, was eight months pregnant, homeless and addicted to heroin before she first met up with Arnold and Norton and began her long recovery. Prior to getting help she had attempted suicide several times.
Lizotte's battle back from addiction and her advocacy for Hope on Haven Hill was widely reported nationwide, including articles in the New York Times.
Hope on Haven Hill's "First Anniversary Gala" is set for Thursday at the Wentworth by the Sea hotel in New Castle.
The theme of the celebration is "Honoring those who light the way."
Sadly, one of those who did won't be there.