Courageous Persuaders Awards Celebration Recognizes High School Student-Produced Anti-Underage Drinking Commercials


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TROY, MI--May 22, 2014: The Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) hosted the annual Courageous Persuaders Awards Celebration, at which high school students who took a stand against underage drinking won $21,250 in scholarships and awards. The event, which took place on Wednesday, May 21 at the Troy Marriott in Troy, Mich. was hosted by renowned Detroit television personality Huel Perkins, anchor at WJBK FOX2.

The DADA is the primary sponsor and administrator of the Courageous Persuaders program, which is facilitated through the DADA Education Foundation.

"We look forward to this event each year," said DADA President Paul Sabatini. "The Courageous Persuaders program works to set kids on the right path by discouraging underage drinking, and it reaffirms the good that there is in today's society. Since these are young people that we honor, it gives us confidence that there can, indeed, be a bright future."

The annual competition, now in its 14th year, encourages high school students to create 30-second television commercials warning middle school students about the dangers of underage drinking. The contest drew 727 participants from 165 high schools who submitted 489 video entries, which included thousands of students from schools throughout the U.S., Canada and Armed Forces Puerto Rico.

The program also announced a new $2,000 scholarship provided by AutoTrader.com. Created in 1997, AutoTrader.com is the Internet's ultimate automotive marketplace and consumer information website.

State Farm's Fan Favorite Award from State Farm returned for a third year. The Fan Favorite is selected by Courageous Persuaders fans who view the commercial on the Courageous Persuaders YouTube site. The winner is selected from among the 60 finalists, and the prize is awarded to the school where the video originated. The videos were viewed over 100,000 times, and the winner was determined by a margin of 94 votes.

Student scholarships and award winners:

Grand Prize, $3,000 - "50 Things" by Sydney Martin and Antonio Colon-Smielewski, St. Clair TEC, Marysville, Mich. First Place, $1,500 - "Good Times" by Bryce Bizer, Austin Plave, Kyle Smola, South Lyon East High School, South Lyon, Mich. Second Place, $1,000 - "No Matter How You Say It" by Brooke Tickler, Daisy Vandenberge, and Ashley Stepniak, Stephenson High School, Stephenson, Mich. Third Place, $500 - "No Second Chances" by Andrew Sokolowski, David Chapman, Alex Hardy, Paul Cusumano, Fraser High School, Fraser, Mich.

In addition, annual awards were presented to the following:

Lindsey Renee Cianciolo Family Memorial Scholarship $3,000 - two $1,500 Michigan based scholarship winners: "Alcohol Hits Hard" by Paul Rice, Lenawee ISD TECH Center, Adrian, Mich., and "Friend Heist" by Rob Marrocco, Eisenhower High School, Shelby Township, Mich. DADA Award, $2,000 - contributed by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association: "Drinking Haunts" by Lauren Mueller, Frederick V. Pankow Center, Clinton Township, Mich. Michelin Award, $2,000 - "A Tale of Two Friends" by David Cochrane and Josh Hyre, Lenawee ISD TECH Center, Adrian, Mich. Adcraft Club of Detroit Award, $2,000 - presented to the commercial that conveyed factual information about the dangers of alcohol use in the most persuasive and creative manner: "Change of Plans " by Teresa Wiencko, Shrine Catholic High School, Royal Oak, Mich. AutoTrader.com, $2,000 - "The Sober Rapper" by Nathan Pruszinske, Maranatha Christian Academy, Brooklyn Park, MN State Farm Award, $1,000 - chosen based on the commercial's effectiveness on the dangers and consequences of underage drinking and automobile usage: "What Goes Into Drunk Driving?" by Andrew Wittland, Forest Hills Northern High School, Grand Rapids, Mich. College for Creative Studies Award, a $250 Award and a portfolio or reel review - "Consequence" by Dylan Malburg, Forest Hills Northern High School, Grand Rapids, Mich. Wall Street Journal Courageous Leader Award - presented to a special teacher for his or her extraordinary contribution to the Courageous Persuaders program: William Wolbrink of Careerline Tech Center, Holland, Mich. State Farm Fan Favorite Award, $2,500 to the winning school – "Make the Right Choice" Lee M. Thurston High School, Redford, Mich.

The Courageous Persuaders program was created in 2000 by the late Oakland County District Judge Michael A. Martone and John Barczyk, a local McCann-Erickson advertising executive (retired). In 2007, the DADA became the primary sponsor and administrator of the Courageous Persuaders program through its DADA Education Foundation. This year's entries continued to be strong, drawing from 38 states, the Canadian Province of British Columbia, demonstrating the continued interest in the program.

In addition to the scholarship, the grand prize-winning student receives the opportunity to participate in a professional editing session to make the video broadcast ready by Pluto Post Productions. The commercial will be broadcast on the Courageous Persuaders Web site, on television, and will be televised in branches of the Michigan Secretary of State's Office. For information, and to view the winning videos, go to CourageousPersuaders.com.

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