“What scares you?” was the question asked to an auditorium of Santa Fe High School students Friday.
Reggie Whitten, an Oklahoma City attorney and co-founder of the Whitten-Newman Foundation to combat drug and alcohol addiction, spoke to Santa Fe students enrolled in extra-curricular activities, who will be subject to drug testing due to a school board policy beginning this year.
Whitten said most people would be more afraid of a shark than of a toaster, but only six deaths were reported due to shark attacks last year — fewer deaths than were attributed to kitchen fires.
Pointing out that sometimes what may seem safe in reality is not, Whitten shared the story of his son Brandon’s life and death and how his son’s addiction became Whitten’s own lifelong mission.
Brandon was 25, the All-American student, an athlete and a leader.
Brandon had been in two traffic accidents. The first one killed his girlfriend, and the second one killed him. Both times drugs and alcohol were involved.
Whitten pointed out there are reasons to sacrifice one’s life whether it be for country or for a good cause, but sacrificing one’s life due to drug abuse whether it be caused by alcohol, prescription drugs or street drugs is not acceptable and is totally unnecessary.
“No one ever told me I couldn’t stop,” Brandon had said.
Whitten said a question that some might ask is, “Why couldn’t Brandon stop?
“The answer was he had become an addict and his brain chemistry was changed forever,” Whitten said. “Scientists know how this works. Twenty percent of the population is built differently and will react in a different way when using drugs.”
Oklahoma spends $1.4 billion each year in direct costs caused by substance abuse, Whitten said. “The majority of those costs are related to safety and security issues (i.e., prisons, jails, prosecution), and the contribution of substance abuse to domestic violence/sexual assault and resulting child abuse and neglect. The overall negative economic impact on the state from substance abuse is estimated to be between $4 billion and $5 billion a year.
“The real and tragic cost is measured in human lives ruined or ended by alcohol and other drugs.”
Whitten said drug abuse contributes to a large percentage of homicides, divorces and the incarceration rate, and that a large percentage of illegal drugs come from terrorist groups.
Whitten has had the opportunity to travel to Africa with Pros for Africa.
During a video presentation, former University of Oklahoma All-American and New Orleans Saints linebacker Curtis Loftin said, “Every decision you make affects your future.”
Whitten added every school has the same problems with drugs.
One time drunk equals 14 days lost in training time, Whitten said, and marijuana impairs short-term memory, perception, judgment and motor skills.
“Studies show marijuana use is six times more likely to cause psychosis,” he added. “The choices you make will determine your fate.”
Senior Zak Kerbo said, “I think this assembly was very informative for those students who don’t know what addiction can do to them. I am a huge OU fan and I was interested in hearing about Pros for Africa.”
Whitten founded Fighting Addiction Through Education, or F.A.T.E., an organization dedicated to educating people in Oklahoma about substance abuse and drug addiction.
Whitten knows he can’t go back but must go on each day.
“Now, I just know — this is my fate,” he said. “This is my fate to try to get the word out. This is my fate to do this as long as I live.”
Edmond Santa Fe principal Jason Hayes said, “I think this was an excellent message for the students to hear. Mr. Whitten had a story to tell that hopefully the students will think about.”
NEW DRUG TESTING POLICY IN PLACE
The assembly was the introduction to the new drug testing program for Edmond students adopted by school board members Nov. 1 and put into effect Jan. 7.
The drug policy passed by board members states the participation in athletics and extra-curricular activities is a privilege, and the district is committed to being proactive in ensuring the safety of all students and sees drug testing as being part of a supportive program.
This program is one of many the district will be sponsoring throughout the year as it emphasizes that drug usage brings harm as well as a high.
“As part of a comprehensive effort to reduce the number of incidents of drug use and abuse by our students, we will continue to look for programs, such as Fighting Addiction Through Education (F.A.T.E.), that will assist us in educating our students about the harmful effects of drug use as well as the danger of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction,” said Jason Brown, executive director of secondary education. “Programs like F.A.T.E. appeal to our students because they involve notable personalities and use language students can relate to. Our goal is to continue to be proactive in bringing similar high-quality educational programs to our schools.”
FOR MORE information about Brandon’s life or to learn more about F.A.T.E., go online to ChangeYourFate.org.
“What scares you?” was the question asked to an auditorium of Santa Fe High School students Friday.
- Local News
North baseballers aid kindergartners
North High School sophomore baseball player Tyler Bowen helps Ida Freeman kindergartners Dakota Prince and Jorge Campuzano pick out a book. Each student received a book, a Christmas cookie and juice and then the baseball team members read to the students.
Rollover crash closes part of north Edmond street
A section of a street in northwest Edmond was closed Thursday afternoon while personnel worked the site of a rollover crash.
The crash occurred along a partly snow-covered stretch of Sorghum Mill Road just west of the Santa Fe-Sorghum Mill intersection. Police, EMSA and fire rescue personnel were working the scene. Both lanes of Sorghum Mill were closed at the time.
Information on injuries or the cause were not immediately available.
Feds indict 3 accused in tag agency thefts
Suspects accused of burglarizing several metro tag agencies including one in Edmond now face federal charges, court records show.
Wednesday, the U.S. District Court, Western District of Oklahoma, released the complaint filed against William Robert Donovan, 40, of Edmond, Richard Bruce Traver, 27, listed as homeless, and Amanda D. Sizemore. Her address information was not available.
Donovan and Traver, who are both in custody at the Oklahoma County jail, and Sizemore, who is not yet in custody, face government allegations of conspiracy to commit offenses against the U.S., aiding and abetting bank fraud and aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft.
If convicted, each defendant faces significant prison time, fines or both.
Defense counsel information was not listed. An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
In the complaint, grand jurors allege that earlier this year, beginning in or before March and continuing through at least June the defendants conspired to commit bank fraud in violation of federal law.
OC will award degrees at winter commencement
Oklahoma Christian University will present 87 undergraduate degrees and 85 graduate degrees at its winter commencement ceremonies Friday and Saturday.
The undergraduate degree candidates come from 16 states and seven countries and majored in a combined 36 academic disciplines at Oklahoma Christian. The master’s degree candidates come from six states and 10 countries, and represent 14 graduate areas of study.
Jim Baird, director of OC’s Honors Program, will deliver the undergraduate commencement address on Friday. Byron Newberry, chair of Oklahoma Christian’s Graduate School of Engineering, will keynote Saturday’s graduate ceremony.
In addition to his director’s role with the Honors Program, Baird is a professor of Bible and philosophy at Oklahoma Christian. He also has served as the preaching minister at Wilshire Church of Christ since 2000. His father, James O. Baird, was Oklahoma Christian’s second president.
Touchmark residents give ‘thumbs up’ to new YMCA
Senior citizens from Touchmark bundled up, braved the cold and the icy roads this week and traveled to the Edmond YMCA Recreation & Aquatic Center at Mitch Park on Covell.
The tour group was one of more than 100 that have been guided through the new facility to show what will be available when it is finished. This $22.5 million facility is a joint project with the the Edmond School District, the City of Edmond and the YMCA.
Joining the group and donning hard hats were Touchmark residents Ellie Lottinville, Judith Harris, Jimmie Cook, John Wayant and Richard Newville along with Carla Scull, Touchmark’s director of life enrichment, and Jesse Walls, driver.
Guthrie-Edmond airport looks to upgrade
The Guthrie-Edmond Regional Airport board was told Tuesday by officials from the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission that GERA is in good shape but work needs to continue to help maximize everything the airport has to offer.
The board was given a presentation by OAC director Vic Bird and Dale Williams, OAC planning division manager about the state of the aviation industry in Oklahoma and how airports the size of GERA are faring.
AAA: Teens report ‘TWD’ significantly less than adults
High school-aged teens report using their phones or texting while driving substantially less often than adults do, according to new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
While the public often cites teens as being the most common offenders, a recent survey found that adult drivers ages 25-39 were the most likely to admit engaging in these risky behaviors behind the wheel.
Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, said young novice drivers, who are especially susceptible to distracted driving crashes, are using their phones while driving less than older drivers.
AAA to offer free Tipsy Tow rides
Before climbing behind the wheel after drinking at a holiday party, AAA Oklahoma hopes you’ll think again and call them for a free Tipsy Tow ride home for you, your vehicle and one more person.
“Over Christmas and New Year’s, up to 40 percent of all traffic crashes involve alcohol,” said Edmond resident Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “But motorists do have options: Use a designated driver, serve non-alcoholic mocktails at parties or call AAA for a Tipsy Tow.”
Paycom plans HoliDazzle event to benefit Warmth 4 Winter Coat Drive
Paycom has teamed with News Channel 4, The Salvation Army and Rotary Club of South Oklahoma City to host HoliDazzle, a free event at Remington Park on Thursday to kick-off the annual Warmth 4 Winter coat drive.
Parents and children are encouraged to bring a new or gently used coat from 3:30-7:30 p.m. to help ensure that every child and adult stays warm during Oklahoma’s harsh winter months. Those who contribute are encouraged to enjoy an afternoon of holiday fun with train rides, pictures with Santa, hot cocoa and cookies.
Lilyfield reschedules ‘Dunks for Diapers’
Lilyfield Christian Adoption and Foster Care has rescheduled its Dunks for Diapers event.
Lilyfield holds a diaper drive with the Oklahoma Christian University Women’s basketball team to benefit foster children. Anyone bringing diapers, wipes or new baby items for ages 0-24 months will gain free admission to the women’s game versus Lubbock Christian University, which will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Eagles’ Nest on the campus of Oklahoma Christian in Edmond.
“This will allow us to give foster families much-needed necessities when they receive placement of a foster child. Often placements happen with little notice and the child may come into a foster home with nothing but the clothes they are wearing,” said Holly Towers, executive director of Lilyfield Christian Adoption and Foster Care.
- More Local News Headlines
- North baseballers aid kindergartners