Foot­ball play­ers tackle sub­stance abuse aware­ness

Times-Record - - News - By DENAE SPIERING dspier­ing@ches­pub.com

EAS­TON — The War­riors and Bull­dogs met Friday, Oct. 6, on the Eas­ton High School foot­ball field to not only tackle their op­po­nent but to also tackle sub­stance abuse aware­ness.

Un­der the “Friday night lights” in front of the sta­dium full of fans, the two teams took to the field, sport­ing pur­ple socks.

At the end of game, like many, the play­ers met in the cen­ter of the field for a quick hand­shake, an at-a-boy and a good game, fol­lowed by a post game prayer.

Typ­i­cally the prayer is led by a player, but on this Friday night the prayer was led by Tal­bot County Sher­iff Joe Gam­ble.

As the boys all took a knee, each plac­ing a hand on one an­other’s shoul­der, War­rior to Bull­dog, they be­came one team, a team against sub­stance abuse.

Gam­ble spoke to the play­ers about his time play­ing high school and col­lege foot­ball, and about stay­ing fo­cused on their fu­tures and on God.

“I just en­cour­age each of you, as you grow, next year, as you all start mov­ing on, mil­i­tary, work, col­lege, think about it, life gets harder, it doesn’t get eas­ier, it gets tougher — fo­cus him,” Gam­ble said. “We all have great hope for all of you, ev­ery sin­gle one of you.”

Fol­low­ing the talk, he led the teams in prayer and said he was hon­ored to be there with them.

The Eas­ton War­riors have been go­ing pur­ple all sea­son in sup­port of Tal­bot Goes Pur­ple, an ini­tia­tive started by Gam­ble and Tide­wa­ter Ro­tar y.

Tal­bot Goes Pur­ple aims to em­power youth and the com­mu­nity to “go pur­ple” as a sign of tak­ing a stand against sub­stance abuse.

The project is based on THP Project Pur­ple, an ini­tia­tive of the Her­ren Project that helps peo­ple strug­gling with drug de­pen­den­cies. Former NBA player Chris Her­ren founded both projects after speak­ing to a high school about his strug­gles with drug de­pen­dency.

On Sept. 18 and 19, Her­ren came to the area and spoke to both North Caro­line and Eas­ton high school stu­dents dur­ing a mov­ing in-school as­sem­bly.

Sub­stance abuse aware­ness and over­doses are not lim­ited to only one area of the state; in the 2017 first quar­ter re­port from the Depart­ment of Health and Men­tal Hy­giene, in Tal­bot County there have been 5 al­co­hol or drug re­lated over­doses and in Caro­line there had been 1.

Last year, Tal­bot and Caro­line coun­ties re­ported the high­est num­bers of opi­oid re­lated deaths within the five coun­ties.

Over­all, the state recorded 1,856 opi­oid-re­lated deaths in 2016, and 473 deaths for this year so far.

James McCormick, head coach of the Bull­dogs, said ad­dic­tion and over­doses have di­rectly af­fected his team and coaches over the years.

“The whole opi­oid epi­demic on the Mid-Shore is a big deal, it doesn’t af­fect this kid or that kid, it af­fects all kids,” McCormick said. “We have had foot­ball play­ers that have grad­u­ated and have died from over­doses, we had staff mem­bers’ fam­ily that have died from over­doses. It is some­thing that hits home, it af­fects all of us and if we can do any­thing to bring some light to it, I think it’s good.

North Caro­line’s pur­ple socks were pur­chased by Roto Rooter of Del­marva in Den­ton.

Jeff Farr, di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions for the com­pany and a par­ent of an Eas­ton War­rior foot­ball player, helped fa­cil­i­tate the do­na­tion of the pur­ple socks and said “My wife and I are very ac­tive in our chil­dren’s lives and we know that it takes the com­mu­nity to help raise the youth.”

“As a part of the Eas­ton Ath­let­ics, es­pe­cially foot­ball, I was proud to be a part of our pur­ple kick-off last month,” Farr said. “I am mostly in­volved be­cause of my chil­dren, and hav­ing a se­nior this year that’s part of the foot­ball pro­gram.”

Farr said it is im­por­tant to him and the com­pany he works for to not only sup­port law en­force­ment and the com­mu­nity, but to also aid in rais­ing aware­ness across the Shore.

“Our com­pa­nies, Ro­toRooter of Del­marva and US Heat­ing and Air, have con­trib­uted for many years to lo­cal sup­port pro­grams es­pe­cially when it ap­plies to our com­mu­nity and law en­force­ment,” Farr said. “We feel that it is im­per­a­tive to sup­port lo­cal com­mu­nity and it is ex­tremely im­por­tant to help raise aware­ness of the ris­ing sub­stance abuse is­sues all of our lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties are suf­fer­ing from.”

“It is won­der­ful to show that sup­port through youth and high school sports pro­grams as it is those sports in­volve many ath­letes, teach­ers, par­ents, and com­mu­nity it­self,” Farr said. “Our hope is that this aware­ness will help save lives and aid in the de­crease of sub­stance abuse all to­gether.”

Dur­ing the game, there was a Tal­bot Goes Pur­ple ta­ble set up near the con­ces­sion stand with in­for­ma­tion about the project and sub­stance abuse. There were also T-shirts and other TGP items avail­able for pur­chase.

For more in­for­ma­tion about Tal­bot Goes Pur­ple or sub­stance abuse, visit tal­bot­goe­spur­ple.org.

PHOTO BY DENAE SPIERING

Tal­bot County Sher­iff Joe Gam­ble prays with the North Caro­line Bull­dogs and Eas­ton War­riors after their foot­ball game on Friday.

PHOTOS BY WIL­LIAM HAUFE

On Friday, Oct. 8, the War­riors from Eas­ton High School and the North Caro­line High School Bull­dogs sported pur­ple socks for sub­stance abuse aware­ness.

Tal­bot County Sher­iff Joe Gam­ble prays with the North Caro­line Bull­dogs and Eas­ton War­riors after their foot­ball game on Friday, Oct. 8.

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