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Little League Volunteer Spearheading ‘Too Smart to Start’ Anti-drug Campaign

WILLIAMSPORT -- It's a simple idea, but a baseball umpire in Williamsport is hoping a new anti-drug campaign will help strike out drug abuse in Lycoming County.

Barry Rake has been volunteering with Little League Baseball for over 45 years. As an umpire, he's been around young baseball fans quite a bit.

Recently, something on Little League Baseball's website caught his eye: a Little League volunteer in Ohio who had lost his son to a heroin overdose began a campaign to help prevent drug abuse.

"When I read the article, I felt the need to do something here in Lycoming County and felt someone should do it. I am someone, so I am doing it," Rake said.

"Estimates on the number of U.S. heroin addicts range from 300,000 to 500,000, up about 75 percent from five years ago," said Lycoming County District Attorney Eric Linhardt.

With help from the county, the West Branch Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission, and a few Little League players, Rake announced an anti-drug campaign called "Too Smart to Start."

"We have 10,000 water bottles we are going to distribute throughout the county," said Rake.

The blue water bottles will be handed out to kids across the county. But what do these players think about the slogan?

"Don't try it because you're smart enough to know what's going to happen," said Brent McDermit.

"They hear that message early on, maybe that will help prevent further on down the line," said Denise Hager.

But these water bottles are meant to be more than just a slogan. With reading material inside, it can be the start of a conversation for parents Denise Hager and her 12-year-old son Mason.

"We have that conversation that sometimes dad has to go out on a call because of a heroin overdose. He knows what's going on. We talk about it more and I think even as a coach sometimes we outreach to some of those kids," Hager said.

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