As the area continues to deal with an ever-present prescription pill problem, local law enforcement, businesses and school organizations are bringing in a speaker they believe will convince students to stay away from drugs.
Former National Basketball Association player Chris Herren will bring his anti-drug use message to Wheeling Park and John Marshall High School students in April as part of his Project Purple Initiative.
Herren, who played for the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics, struggled with substance abuse during most of his professional playing days.
Photo by Fred Connors - Preparing for an April visit from former NBA player Chris Herren are area high school students, from left, Alex Whorton and Moran Vucelik from John Marshall and Blake Humphrey, McKenzie Rodgers and Lea Minch from Wheeling Park.
His is story has been featured on national television in the Emmy-nominated documentary "Unguarded" as part of the ESPN 30 for 30 series, as well as his memoir, "Basketball Junkie."
He travels the country discussing his own substance abuse and recovery experiences with junior high and high school students.
Herren's speaking fees and expenses will be paid with funds provided through the efforts of John Marshall Principal Rick Jones, John Billie of Paree/Erie Insurance of Wheeling, Lori Garrett-Bumba from the Ohio County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition and Melody Osborne from the Adolescent Health Initiative.
Bille said several local businesses have contributed to the project, including Paree Insurance, Erie Insurance, McCoy Wealth Management, Ohio Valley Medical Center, Staley Communications, Axiall Corp, Orick, Herrington and Sutcliffe, Carenbauer Distributing and Robinson Automotive Group.
Jones said he intends to make Herren's visit available to Drug Free Clubs of America members from John Marshal, Cameron, Bishop Donahue, Wheeling Park and Wheeling Central Catholic high schools.
Project Purple is an initiative of the Herren Project, a non-profit foundation established by Herren that assists individuals and families struggling with addiction.
It was launched to break the stigma of addiction, bring awareness to the dangers of substance abuse and shed light on effective treatment practices.
Billie said anyone interesting in helping to bring Herren to the local schools may do so by calling 304-233-2045.