10/27/13 — Founder of SADD offers emotional advice to students

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Founder of SADD offers emotional advice to students

By John Joyce
Published in News on October 27, 2013 1:50 AM

His booming voice filling the auditorium and reducing his microphone to a prop, Students Against Drunk Driving founder Bob Anastas spoke passionately to students Friday at the Wayne School of Engineering, cautioning them against the dangers of peer pressure, alcohol and drugs.

"I try to get them to realize, this young, sixth, seventh and eigth-graders, high schoolers -- they can still contemplate the world out there -- that death exists," said Anastas, a former educator and coach.

As he spoke, he filled the dry-erase board beside him with two numbers circled a dozen times each -- 25 percent and 75 percent.

It was a presentation he has given many times at schools across the country.

"Fella told me once, 'Ya save one life, that's great,'" he said. "I told him he was totally mistaken, 'I'm gonna gett'em all,'" he said.

In 1981, then a high school hockey coach in Mannassas, Mass., Anastas lost two athletes to drunk driving accidents within four days of one another.

He founded SADD shortly after.

"What we don't do in education, not enough anyway, is point out a road to follow," he said.

So he attempts to draw high school and college students a road map they can follow to success -- if they choose, he said.

"Make your weaknesses your strengths, run when the other guy walks, sleep when the other guy parties and keep your body free from drugs and alcohol and in good shape," he said.

In 1983, Ansastas partnered with Anheuser-Busch, selling them first on the idea of campaigning against drunk driving in middle, junior and senior high schools in college, second on getting them to pay for it.

"The schools shouldn't have to pay for it," he said.

Today, Anheuser-Busch flies Anastas all over the country, as well as to Europe and Asia, to speak to students about the impact of their decisions. He was brought to Wayne County, first to Wayne Community College and then to the Wayne School of Engineering by R.A. Jeffrey's.

"You can be over here, or you can be over here," he said, circling the two percentages. "These guys (the 75 percent,) where are they going? They're not going anywhere. Be over here, with these guys, 25 percent, you're gonna go," he said.

By "go" he means to college. He said that scholarships aren't given to people because they are athletes or because of academics -- they are given to people because of the person they are.

"Say 'yes sir, no sir; yes ma'am, no ma'am,' look'em in the eye," he said. "Be a good person.

"If you can dream it, it can be done. It's as simple as that."