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A Message Of Help and Hope in a Simple Balloon

By KEN LARSON
Sun Advocate publisher

On November 12, 2004 Amanda Wood of Hooper, was elk hunting with her father and uncle near Flaming Gorge and Dutch John area, up near the Wyoming border when she found a balloon and "drug free" message sent from Carbon High School in late October. The 14-year-old junior high student was excited to find the message because her school also let balloons go and in her letter back to Carbon High she said that one of her balloons went all the way to New York. Her closing comment was "Remember Stay Drug Free."

Jake Weber from Lander, Wyo. found a similar card attached to a balloon, "in the middle of no-where and I am happy to return it to you all." No-where for Weber was in the Green Mountains about five miles from Jeffrey City, Wyo. He attached a map showing the vicinity of the message.

But it was a third letter that arrived Dec 27, 2004 to high school counselor Melissa Swenson. The card, ribbon and balloon was found while a lady was hiking 11 miles north of LaPoint, which is about 20 miles west of Vernal and 18 miles north of Roosevelt.

The message tugged at my heart as I read it. "Together, my husband and I have eight children, seven of them have used illegal drugs. Four of them have used drugs harsher than marijuana. In every case, a beautiful and promising life was damaged. We have grandchildren who were used for the purchase of drugs. The drugs have their own way of reasoning, rationalizing and lying. No one can trust a druggie. A druggie will always defend (their) use; a druggie will lie at (any) cost and be believed by most. Drugs have destroyed our family. Drugs have destroyed the lives of three of our granddaughters."

"How can our example be for naught? We spent Thanksgiving without family. Christmas will be the same way. Not a day goes by that our hearts are not torn by the great sadness drugs have played in our lives."

"If this letter can help to inspire even one life to "Say no to drugs" then we will know the great tragedy we as a family have experienced will be worth it.

"One single word can save your whole life. "No" make it, "no today, tomorrow, and forever. Just say no. Our hearts are yours."

I couldn't have said it any better or any different. From a person whose entire youth was affected by a drunken father, I understand her pain. I can't remember the number of ruined holidays and sleepless nights I wasted as a little boy because my father wasn't able to say no. The disease of alcoholism (and drug abuse) may have destroyed his life but it affected many others along the way.

When the balloons are launched or found, they are reminders how drug abuse and alcoholism can be prevented. Saying no may be hard but the pain that follows is much harder.





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