The event has brought fentanyl awareness to the community for the last four years

ATASCADERO — The fourth annual An Evening of Aloha was back at the Pavillion on the Lake on Saturday, April 27. The room was full of supportive community members and the family members of loved ones who have lost their lives to fentanyl poisoning. The Emilio Velci Share Aloha Project hosted the event, which was started by Emilio’s mother, Cammie Velci, four years ago after the death of Emilio in 2020 after he took a counterfeit pill laced with fentanyl.  

“Emilio was so loved by so many, and we thank you all for coming tonight and celebrating his birthday,” said Emilio’s aunt, Yvette Gomard, during the festivities. “It just gives us peace that he made everyone so happy here.” 

Every year, Cammie’s family comes from Hawaii for An Evening of Aloha, and earlier this year, they even hosted their first-ever sister event in Hawaii. The family’s coming out to Atascadero was even more special because this year’s event fell directly on Emilio’s 24th birthday. Everyone in attendance was asked to help celebrate.


“I’d like to make a toast to my son Emilio Velci. He’s 24. He’s in heaven celebrating with the angels tonight,” said Emilio’s mom, Cammie, before leading the room in singing “Happy Birthday.”

During the evening, Cammie also commented on the fact that back on Sept. 11, 2023, at the Los Angeles Federal Courthouse, Paso Robles resident Timothy Clark Wolfe was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison in Lompoc for the death of Emilio. Wolfe sold Emilio the counterfeit prescription pill that tragically took his life.

Cammie and her remaining sons were not the only ones in attendance who had lost children and siblings to fentanyl; in fact, one of the parents spoke to the audience.

“I have some speakers here tonight, and I’m going to bring out a dad. He’s become a great friend of mine, and he is working endlessly and tirelessly. He lost his 17-year-old Alyssa to fentanyl poisoning,” stated Velci before bringing up Eric Kittendorf from Los Angeles.

Alyssa also took a counterfeit pill that ended her life in a story very similar to Emilio’s.

“On Oct. 30, 2021, my son called me to tell me his baby sister was gone,” stated Kittendorf. “My daughter and her friend both took a pill — both of them overdosed. Only my daughter never woke up.” 

He said that the man who sold her the pill was a 26-year-old who hung around the high school his daughter attended and would sell pills to students. He was arrested 18 days before he sold Alyssa the pill, possessing over 400 of the same pill, and given a citation before being released the same day. The same man was arrested a year later and was sentenced to 15 years and eight months due to Alyssa’s death.

Out in the lobby, the Emilio Velci Share Aloha Project had a banner displayed with photos of children and loved ones who have died due to fentanyl poisoning. Cammie said that the banner is called Faith Warriors, and the acronym for faith is Fentanyl Awareness Is Hope. 

SLO County Deputy District Attorney Eric Dobroth also spoke at the event. He was one of the instrumental players in Emilio Velci’s case and has showed up at three of the four An Evening of Aloha events.

“I’m going to share a story with you that I haven’t shared publically. It’s about the first time that I saw Cammie Velci. I wasn’t meeting her at the Aloha Project, I wasn’t meeting her at a dinner party, I was watching her on the morgue cameras. I was watching her when she responded to the death of Emilio. I watched the boys respond. I bring this up for the purpose of describing the devastation that I saw,” said Dobroth before adding that he had to walk away from the computer.

Dobroth added that by the time cases get to him, it’s already too late. The devastation brought on by fentanyl has already hit the families he deals with, and it’s important to have discussions about the drug and what it can do to you out in the open, around children, and with the community so people know what the drug can do before it’s too late.

“Know that there are a lot of resources out there,” added Dobroth. “If you went and did an open-source online search right now, you could find One Pill Kills campaigns. You can find all kinds of things to share with your children, share with your community, and share with your children’s friends. They might think you’re annoying, but you got to do it anyway, so they know.” 

He also went over the recent impact of fentanyl in San Luis Obispo County. The numbers he shared with the crowd came from the Sheriff’s Coroner’s Office.

“It’s estimated that 70 percent, seven out of 10 fatal overdoses, overdose deaths in SLO County, 70 percent are either fentanyl-induced or fentanyl in combination with other drugs,” added Dobroth. 

In 2021, there were 123 overdose deaths in SLO County, 74 of those were fentanyl-related. But back in 2018, the county only had 44 overdose deaths, with only three being fentanyl-related.

“So we’ve gone from 7 percent of all fatal overdoses in San Luis Obispo County being fentanyl-related to 70 percent,” Dobroth said. “That’s unacceptable. That is deadly dangerous.”

Currently, one of Cammie’s many projects is working on creating curriculums with Facing Fentanyl’s Andrea Thomas to share with schools. She’s also working with the Atascadero Unified School District to get those upcoming curriculums into our district.

The evening’s program also included hula dancing and ended on a joyous note with a fashion show put on by local retailers Farron Elizabeth and Bloke before DJ and emcee for the night Joy Bonner turned up the party by opening up the dance floor.

To find out more about the Emilio Velci Share Aloha Project, visit

Featured Image: Models for the An Evening of Aloha fashion shop feature clothes from local retailers Farron Elizabeth and Bloke. Photo by Rick Evans