Pubdate: Sun, 30 Jun 2002
Source: Times Daily (Florence, AL)
Copyright: 2002 Times Daily
Author: Emilio Sahurie, Staff Writer
Bookmark: (D.A.R.E.)


She knows the months, but Carol Westbrook can only recite instantly the 
birthdays of one of her six grandchildren.

Summer Star Wallace entered the world at 9 a.m. on Jan. 21, 2000. That date 
is ingrained in Westbrook's memory because of another life-changing event.

Eighteen hours after Summer's life began, the life of Westbrook's son 
ended. Wayne Riddle, 26, committed suicide after years of battling drugs 
and alcohol.

Westbrook, an Atlanta musician who grew up in Sheffield, recalls her son's 
problems began in middle school when a friend introduced him to sniffing 
gasoline. Riddle grew up in Atlanta, crossing back and forth the line 
between sobriety and addiction.

"He would go through periods where he would quit alcohol," Westbrook said. 
"But I can't tell you how many family weekends I went to at rehab hospitals 
in North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia."

Two years after Riddle's death, his family is turning a tragedy into 
something positive. The Dare to Dream Fest honoring Riddle will kick off at 
2 p.m. Saturday at the Florence-Lauderdale Coliseum.  Proceeds from the 
music festival will benefit D.A.R.E. and school resource officers in 
Colbert and Lauderdale counties.

Lisa Bevis, Westbrook's niece, said planning the event grew from a possible 
backyard concert to a festival with about a dozen musical acts supported by 
local businesses.

"We didn't have alcohol and drug educational programs when I was younger," 
said Bevis, a former radio DJ in the Shoals. "The kids can learn now at a 
young age to prevent something like this from happening again."

Standing next to a poster-size photograph of her son, Westbrook will share 
his story as she introduces the music portion of the festival. "This event 
makes me feel he didn't die for nothing," said Westbrook, who dreamt for 
the past two years of organizing an event that could help other families. 
Westbrook said the it's would be about giving back to the community.

In Colbert County, the timing couldn't have been better, said Sheriff 
Ronnie May, who has seen D.A.R.E. grants dwindle to $2,500 from $10,000 two 
years ago.

Donations will offset costs of putting deputies in school and buying 
instructional materials, he said.

"It will help because we have to give children much information as we can 
to help them make the right decision," May said.

The event also will be a family affair with several of the musical groups 
being close friends or relatives. The dozen acts donated their talents to 
the event.

Bevis' father is part of the local music group 3 Generations; her sister, 
Karen Sanford, who is assisting with the event, is in Rampage ; and her 
sisters-in-law make up The Peace Family. The groups will be part of a show 
featuring country, contemporary Christian rock and other types of music.

Crafts, food and children's games will be set up inside and outside the 
Florence-Lauderdale Coliseum. Westbrook and Bevis said dozens of companies 
like Clearchannel Radio donated services and door prizes that will be given 
out every hour.

One company donated costumes of cartoon characters and members of the 
Tennessee Valley Wrestling Association will be on hand meeting with fans.

Florence police officers have also offered to fingerprint children as part 
of identification kits, Bevis said.

Besides helping school resource officers who are among the first line of 
defense in straying children away from drugs and alcohol, the festival may 
help other families personally, Westbrook said.

A memorial banner will be available for people who have lost someone to 
drugs and alcohol to sign their names, Westbrook said.

"I hope it's the start of the healing process for some families," Westbrook 

Emilio Sahurie can be reached at 740-5803 or WANT TO GO?

... What: Dare to Dream Fest 2002. The music festival benefits law 
enforcement officers in Colbert and Lauderdale assigned to schools.

... When: Saturday, 2-10 p.m., with music beginning at 4:30 p.m.

... Where: Florence-Lauderdale Coliseum

... Cost: $4 for adults and $2 for children. Advanced tickets that cost $1 
less will be sold at Joyful Noise Music in Littleville and Starburst Café 
in Killen.

... Details: 718-3350
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom