WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV (WVNS) — Big names from across West Virginia and beyond met at The Greenbrier Resort on Wednesday, May 26, 2021, to support opioid prevention education.
Former players and coaches from WVU and Marshall mingled with lawmakers, like U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. Included among them was University of Alabama Head Football Coach Nick Saban, returning to his home state to take part in the classic.
The event bringing everyone together was a golf classic and opioid prevention education luncheon, put on by WV Game Changer, an organization focused on raising awareness of the growing opioid and substance misuse problem in the state.
Manchin said the focus needs to be put back on to the kids.
“We’ve had a pandemic and on top of that we’ve had an epidemic, and when you have the addictions that we have faced for so long and the fallout with the children, I don’t know how long it’s been, two three years ago, Joe and I started talking and he had this idea, and he said ‘Joe we gotta do something,'” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D) – WV.
Senator Manchin and Joe Boczek decided to raise funds through a golf tournament to go toward the prevention education program.
“We are developing a comprehensive plan centered around prevention education because it is just logical that if kids never touch a drug they can’t get addicted,” said Joe Boczek, the Executive Director of WV Game Changer.
Coach Saban and Senator Manchin are childhood friends, growing up right down the road from each other. Saban said as a head coach he knows firsthand what kids can go through and how sports can be something to push them forward. He said he understands some kids do not get the same opportunities, which is why he came home to help.
“But there is a lot of young people, the ones that we are talking about trying to help here today, that really don’t have that opportunity to change their life in a positive way,” said Saban.
He is not the only head football coach with the cause.
“I think we have a duty. We are the program here in West Virginia and this is a problem, opioid abuse is a problem that affects the kids in our state,” said Neal Brown, the head football coach at WVU.
When it comes to preventing children from developing addictions, Saban and Manchin said this is something we can all fight for.
“This is one of those things, it doesn’t matter who you root for, you can be a Mountaineer fan, you can root for Auburn. It doesn’t matter to me because this is all about people. It is about young people. I think they are the future and it is very uplifting to have a chance and an opportunity to be here and to do this,” said Saban.
“Still there is one thing that brings us together, it’s the kids, and that’s something we all have in common,” said Senator Manchin.