TV/radio host and activist Kerri Kasem came out to honor anti-drug activists at the tenth annual Drug-Free Heroes Awards Gala benefitting the Foundation for a Drug-Free World of The Americas on June 1. The event, held at Leonard’s Palazzo in Great Neck, came as New York State battles a sharp increase in overdose deaths sweeping the Northeast and South. Last year it is estimated that more than 1,000 people in New York City died of overdoses.
Speakers included New York State Senator Tony Avella (D, IP, District 11) of Queens; James J. Hunt, special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Division; and Kyle McCauley Belokopitsy, executive director of the New York State PTA.
Awardees included government figures the Honorable Andrew J. Lanza, New York State senator; Robert Barnes, Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark’s office; and Frank J. Spotorno, former congressional candidate, 14th district, Queens and the Bronx. Nonprofit executives Antonio Hendrickson, Lead by Example/Reverse the Trend; and Michael Reagan DeLeon, Steered Straight, Inc. received honors. United Nations executives Ambassador Carlos Garcia, past secretary general, United Nations Association of El Salvador; Noella Nsamwa, president of Karibu-Global Initiatives; and the Honorable Foday Mansaray, International Human Rights Commission special diplomatic advisor were tapped for recognition. The Foundation for a Drug-Free America paid tribute to law enforcement personnel L. Kelly Johnson, School Safety Division, Community Affairs Bureau, NYPD; Detective Melissa Jones, Chief of Transportation Bureau, NYPD, Police Officer Kimberleigh A. Radigan, Southampton Village; Police Officer Charles Sadler, NYPD Community Affairs, 104th precinct; Police Officer Tatiana S. Espinal, NYPD Neighborhood Coordination; Police Officer Andres F. Gomez, NYPD Neighborhood Coordination; and Mohammad Akram, platoon commander, NYPD.
Artists and celebrities Camille Sims, Miss New York 2016; Ted McGrath, chief transformation officer, Ted McGrath Brands; and Ricky Byrd, 2015 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Recovery Troubadour were awarded. Latin American drug-free crusaders Colonel Hugo Angulo Rogel of El Salvador; and Ana Mercedes Acosta, Ramón Gross, Franklin Valois Reyes, and Mariela Valois of the Centro de Formation y Superacion Humana, Inc. also received honors as will Drug-Free World regional representatives and volunteers.
Serving as emcees were Dr. Bernard Fialkoff and Meghan Fialkoff, president and executive director respectively of the Foundation for a Drug-Free World of The Americas. The chapter has been spearheading events across the five boroughs and Latin America to raise awareness of the dangers of drugs since 2006, reaching more than 100,000 children and adults.
“With the horrors of drug abuse ever encroaching into the homes of New Yorkers everywhere, it is urgent that each of us take responsibility and maintain vigilance,” said Meghan Fialkoff. “We are happy to take a moment Thursday to pay tribute to the tireless, everyday heroes who are in the trenches, working daily to create a drug-free New York City and a drug-free world.”
Proceeds will go to the program’s Adopt a School campaign, providing free drug education events and programming citywide and statewide.
ABOUT THE FOUNDATION FOR A DRUG-FREE WORLD:
The Foundation for a Drug-Free World, www.drugfreeworld.org, is a nonprofit public benefit corporation that empowers youth and adults with factual information about drugs so they can make informed decisions and live drug-free. Internationally, the group has distributed 50 million drug prevention booklets and produced thousands of drug awareness events in 180 countries. The non-profit’s Truth About Drugs public service announcements have been aired on more than 500 television stations.