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“The best me is drug free.”
That was the message shared last week during National Red Ribbon Week.
Cedar Grove Middle School in Supply celebrated the national drug prevention campaign with flair of its own. Students and staff wore crazy socks and hair, dressed as nerds, wore red and participated in a school-wide assembly where the Port City Spokesmen wheelchair basketball team performed and shared personal testimonies.
As the team took the court, they were surrounded by Bulldog spirit as students cheered and wore red. Founded in 1994, the team consists of 10 players and won the national championship in 2003 and 2004.
Timothy Corbett, a disabled military veteran and co-founder of the team, talked about how he used to jump from airplanes as a part of the 82nd Airborne Division.
“You have to look at the things you will go through in life and be able to pick yourself up and shake it off,” he said. “I’m lucky to be alive. I was thrown out of a Jeep and broke my back. That was 23 years ago. If I’d been wearing my seat belt, I’d probably still be walking.”
He encouraged students to look inside themselves for courage.
“Don’t let anybody describe who you are. You have the power within you to do anything you want,” Corbett said.
Fred Smith, military veteran and player who was injured while working at a manufacturing job, shared a message of endurance, “Never give up. If you think something is hard, never give up. Stay away from drugs. Alcohol is a drug. Cigarettes are a drug. Don’t take it.”
Smith shared a personal story about losing his brother in 2001 to a heroin overdose.
“It really hit home hard,” he said. “Stay away from drugs.”
The Port City Spokesmen then played an exhibition game so students could see how they play basketball in wheelchairs. Each chair is specially adapted to the individual’s abilities.
After a scrimmage, students were invited to race one another in the specialty wheelchairs to get a feeling of how difficult it is to get around in the chairs and the amount of strength needed to play the sport.
At the end of the assembly students nominated teachers to race each other. As they raced across the gym in the wheelchairs, the room exploded with laughter and applause as students cheered their teachers on.