Local generosity aids Lincoln D.A.R.E. in new tools for the fight on substance abuse

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[September 14, 2020] 

On Saturday morning the Lincoln D.A.R.E. program unveiled to local media some new tools they will be using to help educate local youth on the impact of drinking and driving as well as driving drug impaired.

The new Drunk Buster carts and marijuana goggles were demonstrated by local firefighters, who were also involved in the acquisition of the new tools.

The carts and goggles were funded in part by a donation from Joe Ryan and Country Financial. Ryan was on hand, airing a live show of the Cheap Seats, a sports themed talk show on WLCN Radio in Atlanta.

The Drunk Buster carts are pedal-powered go-carts with four wheels and a steering wheel. At the beginning of the activity local firefighters Kerns and Davis hopped on the carts and took a quick trip around the back parking lot at the Lincoln Police Station.

They enjoyed the ride that first time around and even raced a little bit to get back into the garage on Sixth Street and out of the rain.

Next, they put on a pair of the goggles that simulate what you see or don’t see when driving under the influence.

This time, the trip around the parking lot was much slower and neither one drove with confidence. While the goggles impaired their vision it did not cloud their minds, and they were well aware that they were driving at a disadvantage.

When they came back inside the garage they spoke about what they experienced. Kern’s said that he had felt off-balance, “didn’t have any bearings” and nauseated while driving. Davis agreed saying that he felt very ‘dizzy’ the entire time.

In another exercise wearing just the goggles, two of the firefighters tried tossing a football. First without the goggles the two threw perfect spirals to one another inside the garage. Then with the goggles on, the thrower tossed the ball. It arced then slammed into the floor about five-foot in front of the catcher, demonstrating the lack of coordination and inability to perceive distance when impaired.

Lincoln D.A.R.E. Officer Christy Fruge’ spoke with Ryan during the radio show, first thanking Ryan for the donation that contributed to the purchase of the new equipment.

Later, she noted that the carts and goggles cost about $2,000 and that Ryan’s contribution had made a big difference in the ability to purchase the carts.

During the presentation, they talked about the size of the carts. Fruge’ said that when looking at the carts online, and getting ready to place her order, she noted that though in a neighboring state the carts were going to cost almost as much as they were worth to ship. She and a fellow D.A.R.E. officer took a day and went and picked them up to save money. She said when they got back to the Lincoln Police department, officers were also surprised by the size of the carts, and several were anxious to take them for a spin.

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Fruge’ said the carts, which have adjustable seats, can be utilized for middle school and high school students, but also can be ridden by adults. She went on to say that because of the coronavirus, the carts won’t get a lot of exposure this year. However, her hope is to have them at local events and festivals, such as the Third Friday’s downtown in Lincoln next year.

Ryan also noted the involvement of the fire department and reminded listeners that when a vehicle accident occurs first responders from local fire departments are among the first to arrive on the scene. They see the impact that impaired driving has firsthand.

Included in the purchase were selections of goggles that will help wearers understand the impact of various forms of impairment. The drunk goggles come in graduated levels from .04 on the lower end to the “Totally Wasted Goggle” that simulates a blood alcohol level of up to .35. There are also goggles that simulate the effects of drug usage such as the cannabis goggle, and the impact of fatigue, such as the “Snooze” and “Red-eye” goggles.

Fruge’ said that there are also activity kits to go along with the goggles, such coloring pages for kids where they color without the goggles, then attempt to color the same picture with the goggles on. The lesson is that it is harder to stay inside the lines when you’re drunk, thus you can’t be good at what you do when you are impaired, busting the myth that certain drugs make people perform better.

Fruge’ is delighted to have such an amazing set of tools in her toolbox for the war on drug and alcohol abuse. She noted that whatever can be done to impress upon our youth the perils of substance abuse is well worth doing.

On a sidebar, after the radio appearance on the Cheap Seats, Fruge’ also talked briefly about a generous anonymous donation she received earlier this year. A couple who had received the federal stimulus checks due to Covid-19 had felt they didn’t really need the money, and wanted to do something worthwhile with it. They donated their checks to the Lincoln D.A.R.E. program.

Fruge’ said that she still has some of the cash left, and has been utilizing it as needed to help pay for shoes and other items for local youth. Fruge’ is also the School Resource Officer for District 27 in Lincoln, working primarily with the junior high school. She said that she sees the need for suitable clothing and shoes throughout the school.

Combining the D.A.R.E program and her role as SRO, Fruge’ is working with those children to help them stay productive and healthy in school. A part of that is to assure that they have what they need in order to attend school - shoes, sweatshirts and coats are a big need she is delighted to be able to help with due to the generosity of others.

If you are interested in supporting the local D.A.RE. cash donations are happily accepted at the Lincoln Police Station, 710 Fifth Street.

[Nila Smith]

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