By Timithie NORMAN
More than 250 people flooded into the parking lot of Leo’s All-Star Sports Bar & Grill on Sunday afternoon to raise money for Drew’s Voice, a nonprofit organization recently founded in memory of Crescenta Valley High School student Drew Ferraro who took his life on campus on Feb. 10.
Families ate barbecued sausages and admired a collection of cars from the Early Rodders car club while bands played live music in the background. The crowd was a sea of navy blue T-shirts, many with the organization’s “Drew’s Voice, Our Voice” motto and others with “zero tolerance” messages. Many members of Drew’s family were present, including his mother and Drew’s Voice founder Deana Ferraro.
“We aim to teach awareness of kindness, compassion, and the power of words and actions,” Ferraro said. “Kids need to be taught how to be kind and compassionate. They need to realize that one little word can hurt.”
Drew’s family has spoken out about how bullying may have been a factor in his decision to commit suicide based on the content of his journal and letters and emails to friends.
“‘I want people to be happy, I just want people to be nice.’ That’s what he said in his journal,” Ferraro said. “He had written about it to friends.”
In an effort to raise awareness of and prevent bullying, the Ferraro family through Drew’s Voice hopes to implement a character education program at CVHS and other schools to teach the values that preclude peer abuse.
“My hope is that the kids can be taught by semester. We’ve spoke with the district, we will be meeting with the board, and I hope to work with the state at some point,” Ferraro said. “Things have to change.”
Meghan Ulfeldt, CVHS class of 2002, attended the fundraiser with her 18-month-old daughter.
“We wanted to show the family support and love,” Ulfeldt said. “Society doesn’t look at bullying like it does fighting, until something like this happens,” added her husband, CVHS class of 1998 grad Eric Ulfeldt. “There needs to be zero tolerance.”
Since Drew’s death, many community organizations have demonstrated support for the Ferraro family and CVHS through a variety of efforts. A locally started I CARE campaign gathered and distributed over 7,000 Valentine’s Day cards to every student at CVHS to show that they are loved and supported. H&R Block handed out forms at the Sunday event explaining how donations to Drew’s Voice will be made from each referral for tax services. The Montrose Chamber, Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center and Bonner’s Equipment Rental joined with Leo’s to support the Sunday event.
“I think it is important to get these foundations established,” said Leslie Lesh of Leo’s. “We are helping out to get the ball rolling, but they’ll have to find a bigger park next time.”
Individuals interested in donating or otherwise supporting Drew’s Voice can contact Sarah Ferraro at (818) 618-8224 or visit drewsvoice.org.