Zuckerberg visit a surprise to Dayton roundtable participants

Facebook CEO part of discussion about opioid epidemic

One of the most influential men in the world was in Dayton this weekend to talk to local people about opioid addiction, an issue devastating many area families.

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who is touring the Midwest, stopped in Dayton on Saturday, for a community roundtable hosted by CareSource.

Lori Erion, founding director of FOA Families of Addicts, said she was asked to sit on the 10-person roundtable with the billionaire. She said the roundtable participants didn’t know they were meeting with Zuckerberg until just moments before he was introduced.

RELATED: Lori Erion shares her daughter’s story

For a famous billionaire with a movie — “The Social Network” — based his life, she described Zuckerberg as “a regular guy.”

“Had I known he was going to wear a T-shirt and jeans, I would have worn an FOA shirt,” she said.

Erion and others spoke with Zuckerberg for about 90 minutes, as the group described the opioid crisis in the area and the struggles with addiction that many in the area face.

RELATED: Coroner investigates 145 suspected overdose deaths in month

“He wanted to get a better understanding of how people get addicted, what the process is to getting better and what is required for recovery,” she said.

Dayton has been hit hard by the heroin crisis. Montgomery County experienced a record 355 confirmed or suspected overdoses during 2016.

Erion said Zuckerberg didn’t pledge any money to helping fight the drug issues in the area, but is hopeful his stature will help bring attention to the ongoing crisis.

“He’s so well-known that if he didn’t put any money towards it, he has the vehicle to make change,” Erion said.

RELATED: Heroin’s Impact: A Special Report

Zuckerberg said in January that he was challenging himself to visit people in all 50 states.

On Friday, Zuckerberg was the mystery guest for dinner with the Moore family of Newton Falls, about 55 miles southeast of Cleveland. Daniel Moore said he and his wife, Lisa, found out Zuckerberg would be their guest just 20 minutes before dinner.

After leaving Dayton on Saturday, Zuckerberg toured South Bend, Ind., with Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

This story contains information from the Associated Press.

Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.