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Memorial wall remembers tobacco victims

by: Photo By Susan Matheny - Holding the memory wall with names of locals who died or have serious illnesses due to tobacco are, Michelle Figueroa, left, Noemi McCool, Mary Williams, Carlos Baltazar, Miguel Vasquez and Dalia Sarbia, with Annette Fleshman at back.


   A "Memory Wall" with 200 paper hearts bearing the names of friends and relatives of local people who have died or have a life-threatening illness from smoking, was unveiled March 28, during Kick Butts Day at Friendship Park in Madras.
   Kids from the Jefferson County Youth Development Team and FAST Youth Group waved anti-tobacco picket signs at the park and received many honks of support from passing traffic.
   Students passed out stickers, gum, stop smoking kits to people attending the event, and gave them slips of paper to enter a raffle for six free sweatshirts.
   As the memory wall was unveiled, county tobacco prevention coordinator Dana Hastings said, "Forty people die in Jefferson County from tobacco use each year, and 782 local people suffer from a serious illness caused by tobacco use. We hear a lot of numbers, but each of these people has a name and a family; they are not just numbers."
   She said the youths designed the Kick Butts event to bring tobacco awareness to the county. "They wanted to use their voice to make a difference."
   The names for the wall were collected as the youth groups gave presentations on the hazards of tobacco to sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade classes at JCMS. They asked students for names of relatives and also e-mailed teachers and county employees asking for names for the wall.
   Mayor Jason Hale spoke, thanking the youths for "standing up for a cause ... and taking time out of your spring break to do this."