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STARTERS NEVER START: Student athletes join to put an end to tobacco usage

With bonds forged in the fires of competition, student athletes from Carter County and Elizabethton are coming together to put a stop to tobacco use.
Ranging from football to soccer, athletes from Elizabethton and the county met at Citizens Bank Stadium at Elizabethton High School Wednesday to shoot promotional pieces for the “Starters Never Start” campaign, geared to the youth of the community.
“We’re looking for peer-to-peer awareness about the effects of tobacco,” Lauren Meier, registered respiratory therapist, told the Elizabethton Star. “We have a couple of athletes that are core in this group, and they are hoping to get some awareness out that is specifically geared to younger athletes.”
Carter County Drug Prevention Coalition and Carter County Health Department and presenting the campaign, which features various photos of athletes posed that will be displayed throughout the area.
“We will have posters in each of the city schools,” Meier said. “We’ll also have posters around town. We’re hoping to have them inside the library, Parks & Rec and the Boys and Girls Club … the places where there are a lot of children.”
Jilian Reece, CCDP director, added the excitement for the project has grown over the past year with different entities getting involved, including the Elizabethton Twins.
Reece also thanked Elizabethton High School head coach Shawn Witten and Grasscutters coach Brandon Blevins for participating in the shoot. Rebecca Marr is handling the photos and design for the promotional campaign, free of charge.
High school, middle school, and collegiate athletes were joined by members of Elizabethton and Happy Valley junior football programs with smiles in full abundance, especially for the Loveday brothers.
Nolan and Lennox are avid Cyclones fans and football players for the Elizabethton Grasscutters. Samantha Loveday, the boys’ mother, said they were more than willing to participate.
“They are very excited to be part of this project,” she said. “They look up to every one of these players. No matter who it is, especially with it being the Cyclones. They’ve got to practice with them and watch their games.
Loveday added the project hits home for the family with the children’s father being a recovering drug addict.
“They understand the concept of what they’re doing,” she said.
T.A. Dugger was also well represented with football players. Jackson Humphries and Ethan Meier was part of the shoot and are part of the county’s Teen Tobacco Board.
The duo indicated they were excited about working on the project and want to encourage their peers to stay away from tobacco products.
Remain up to date with the activities from Starters Never Start by visiting the Carter County Drug Prevention Coalition Facebook page online.