Buffalo Bills linebackers Paul Posluszny and Keith Ellison, running back Fred Jackson and safety Jon Corto joined the Red Ribbon Rally and challenged Build Academy #91 students to "Join the Drug-Free Team" on October 26th.
"There's nothing positive about taking drugs, said Corto. "The biggest thing that's helped me is I set specific goals for myself. I did everything I could to achieve them. I didn't let anything take me off that path."
As part of "National Red Ribbon Week," the players played a game of Drug Jeopardy that tested everyone's knowledge of drug abuse and ways to abstain. By creating teams with Buffalo Bills, the students were rallied to stay drug-free.
"With the Bills being a part of the assembly, the kids really get motivated and with the interactive trivia it gets them involved," said Jackson. "Staying drug free is such a strong message."
Over 600 Pre-K through eighth grade students, teachers, dignitaries, and friends of prevention participated in the event, which featured remarks from WNY United's Program Director and the Buffalo Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Theresa Villano, WNY United Against Drug and Alcohol Abuse, prevention specialist thought the Bills players were an important part of helping the kids get the message to "Join the Drug-Free Team."
"I'm so happy to have Bills players here," said Villano. "The kids believe in them because they see that they are drug free and proud."
Paul Posluszny was impressed with the event and shared how he was able to be drug-free.
"The assembly helped instill the importance of staying drug-free to an entire school," said Posluszny. "Kids today have such a hard time staying on the right path because of different pressures and distractions in everyday life. When they come to school one morning and see four Bills players that have reached their ultimate goal of being in the NFL, it shows them that they can do anything they want if they stay focused and on the right path."
Posluszny added, "I was drug free because I saw my older brother first-hand being drug-free. When I was growing up, he was always playing sports and staying active in school. It led me to that same path, and by him being such a positive example I was able to stay focused and ultimately got my goal of playing professional football."
"National Red Ribbon Week" is the most visible time of year for substance abuse prevention efforts. It is a time of conferences, rallies, parades, demonstrations, contests and school assemblies. All of these events serve to encourage young people to avoid abusing drugs. People from all walks of life wore and displayed red ribbons to remember Enrique Camarena, a DEA Agent killed by drug lords in 1985, and showed their commitment to prevention efforts and leading lives free of substance abuse.
WNY United used the rally at School #91 to promote several other activities including the annual essay contest and coloring activity that last year drew over 2,000 participants. The new HANDS OFF DRUGS campaign was rolled out at the Rally, and the "Take A Stand" Banner Contest and Walk will encourage all schools to get involved!