Rally promotes drug free life

A Red Ribbon Rally was held Wednesday morning in Lee Hall Auditorium to promote a drug free lifestyle in Leon County School’s youth.

Speakers at the rally included Florida’s First Lady, Columba Bush, President Fred Gainous, Rattler football player Demetrius Burkes and Jim McDonough, the Drug Czar of Florida.

“Twenty Floridians die each day because of their corrupted pursuit of drugs,” McDonough said. “We are here to encourage you to have enough respect for your lives not to do drugs.”

Gainous urged the crowd to continue striving to achieve their goals.

“Conduct in your life is important and in order to achieve conduct, you must live drug free,” Gainous said.

Bush told students the right friends and a firm stance against drugs helps in making the chose of living drug free.

“You must depend on inner strength and seek guidance from a positive role model in order to make the right decisions,” Bush said.

Burkes, a defensive end for the Rattlers who was born into an environment surrounded by drug use, shared his personal experiences.

“Due to my mother’s crack addiction, I developed a case of dyslexia,” said the 23-year-old, junior political science student from Miami. “I graduated high school with a special diploma and was told I would not make it to college.

“I am here to tell you that no matter what may come, it’s up to you to achieve in life.”

Burkes’ speech motivated those in attendance.

“He really touched my heart and I enjoyed his enthusiasm,” said Tia Byrd, 14, a student from Nims Middle School.

The Leon County’s Sheriff Office rewarded the youth with giveaways to encourage a drug free life.

“We are here to support a worthy cause,” Sheriff Larry Campbell said.

Student Government Association President Larry O. Rivers offered his advice to youth as well.

“The secret to making it to college is staying focused and living drug free, said the 21-year-old, senior public relations student from Tallahassee.

Event organizers hoped their efforts would have a positive affect on the audience.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity for the university system and the public school system to collaborate and show their dedication toward the well-being of our future”, said Shari Moore, prevention coordinator for Leon County’s Safe and Drug Free Schools Office. “I wanted to encourage the students to follow their goals and make positive choices through education and enjoyable experiences.”

Benjamin Evans can be reached at Presidentevans@aol.com and Teesa Johnson can be reached at teesajohnson@hotmail.com.