By LESLIE COLLINS
September 12, 2013
“We came with a message and we came to represent our sport,” the announcer said as students gathered around the half-pipe.
Music blared at the Northeast High School football field as the extreme sports athletes flipped and twisted in the air, making their tricks look effortless. These were renowned professional athletes and included Jimmy Walker (BMX), Trevor Meyer (BMX), Mykel Larrin (BMX), Eito Yasutoko (inline skater) and Paul Luc Ronchetti (skateboarder). They’ve competed in the X Games and countless competitions and taken home gold medals.
On Sept. 10, they weren’t just representing their sport, they were representing the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. As they performed, the announcer rattled off their tricks, but also relayed tobacco statistics and talked about tobacco’s damaging effects.
Talking about the chemicals found in cigarettes, the announcer said, “If you were to cook all this stuff up, basically you’d have meth. (If you smoke) you guys are going to shorten your life by a whole lot, I’ll tell you that.”
Worldwide, about 4.82 million people die every year as a result of tobacco use, he said. In the U.S., that figure is more than 400,000.
“That’s like a war,” he said.
According to tobaccofreekids.org, in the United States, tobacco kills more people per year than AIDS, car accidents, alcohol, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined. Most smokers began smoking when they were children and about 1,000 children become regular smokers every day, the website said.
Following the performance, the announcer quizzed the students on the tobacco facts and handed out prizes to those who answered correctly. Students also had a chance to talk to the athletes during a meet and greet and get their autographs.
Photos by Leslie Collins
Check out our video of the event at: