Speaker Delivers Powerful Message
Wetzel County’s high school students received a powerful message during an assembly held on April 8 at Magnolia High School.
It was arranged so that all high schoolers got to hear the message; therefore, one assembly was held at 8:30 a.m. for MHS and Paden City High School students, while another assembly was held later that morning for Hundred High School and Valley High School students. Students who expected a speech with standard facts and statistics and a standard “Do not do drugs,” message were in for a surprise. This intense program was quite the opposite. Although this program entailed the above, such as facts and figures, it also included very real life examples.
The program, called TEEN TRUTH, began with a powerful documentary-type of film which showed teens and adults who had been addicted to substances. The film included before-and-after photos of those who had become addicted to drugs. Perhaps most chilling was a real recording of a 911 call from two adults who were high on crystal meth. These adults claimed to be surrounded and trapped by hundreds of people. Those people, in reality, were only cattle. The couple high on meth ended up dying after becoming stranded outside of the warmth and safety of their vehicle.
The film followed up with an equally powerful message by Michael Sarich.
Sarich said since the age of five he had known he wanted to play baseball. He wasn’t just going to play baseball for recreation either; he was going to be a Major League Baseball player.
This aspiration wasn’t at all a dream though, as Sarich possessed talent. During his teenage years he began travelling with an All-Star team where he was a starting pitcher.
“I’ve never seen my dad prouder,” Sarich stated.
Tragically Sarich lost his father when he was 16 years old.
Sarich said he remembers the last moment he had with his father, as it was the morning his father was leaving for an annual trip.
“Before he left, he walked in my room. He leaned over, kissed me on the forehead and said ‘I love you.'”
Sarich said he regrets not responding to his father, as a few hours later his father unexpectedly passed away. “He was my hero, my baseball coach, a great dad, a great friend”
Sarich said he stayed at home to take care of his family. Then he started drinking to numb the pain.
“It does make you forget stuff,” he said of alcohol. “However, until you face your problems, they are going to stick with you. Alcohol just prolongs the inevitable.”
Sarich said he would listen to his mother crying herself to sleep, while he was downstairs drinking. Yet despite this, he moved on to stronger substances, such as pills.
“I would pop pills with my buddies, and it would be easier to leave my mom at home,” he said, adding that throughout his high school career, he drank and used drugs.
During his senior year, two months from graduation, Sarich and a friend took a road trip. The trip ending tragically as a result of substance abuse and driving.
“It was 19 years ago last week, and I remember it like it was yesterday,” he said.
Sarich’s friend, the driver, died as a result of the accident.
“Think of your life when you make one single bad choice,” Sarich urged students. “Whoever you live with loves you more than you will ever know.”
“My only hope is before you take that first sip or first hit, you think twice. One of these nights you may not make it home, because you were selfish. No one thinks about these things. Neither did I.”
“My party ended, but it didn’t end on my terms.”
Sarich’s substance abuse did not end with the accident. He explained that he didn’t stop using drugs until he attempted suicide twice.
He emphasized that he is still an addict, despite being clean and sober since July 3, 2003.
“Every morning I wake up, I want a cocktail. Every night I want to get drunk,” he said.
He added that he cannot keep still, and for some reason, his body must constantly be moving.
“I stand up, and I kneel down. I don’t know what did this to me, but one of these drugs did this to me,” he explained.
Had he stuck with the straight path, “I would’ve made millions if I have played Major League Baseball. Some of my friends are multi-millionaires. Some have been retired now,” he said.
However, “I’m so thankful I’m still here,” Sarich said, noting that he is married now and has a 3-year-old son.
“I love being married. I love my son. I love it all. That is what life is all about,” he said.