MANATEE — Garrett Harney, age 20, died Aug. 20, 2006 from a prescription drug overdose.
Todd Peurifoy, age 18, committed suicide May 13, 2005 while under the influence of cocaine and marijuana.
In memory of those area youths and other young people who have lost their lives to drug and alcohol addiction, about 1,200 people attended a concert Sunday night at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Convention Center.
The performance featured bands We The Kings, The Prospect and 2 Girlz as well as artist Daniel Landers and benefited Families Against Addictive Drug Abuse, a nonprofit organization aimed at preventing addiction and death related to substance abuse.
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The organization’s mission is to reduce prescription drug abuse and the use of illegal drugs in Florida.
Sunday evening’s goal was to provide local youths a safe place to hang out.
“We’re trying to provide some good clean fun,” said Cindy Harney, Garrett’s mother and founder of FAADA.
As bands performed in the low-lit convention center, teenagers surrounded a stage and danced and sang along.
Photos of area youth who have lost their lives to drugs and alcohol addiction or been victims of drunk driving crashes were on display inside the convention center.
Harney and FAADA co-founder Ruth Lyerly, who lost her son Todd, have been visiting area high schools to talk to teens about drugs and alcohol.
“We go to encourage them to not let friends drink and drive and to stay away from drugs,” Harney said.
Currently FAADA is working with legislators to get a bill passed that creates a statewide registry that tracks prescriptions.
So far, Harney said, 36 states have such registries and she says the Legislature should make Florida No. 37.
The bands that performed Sunday did so free of charge.
“For our community to step up and say enough, especially for our youth, it’s great,” said Harney.
“Anything to help the community,” added 22-year-old Joe Pezzino, a band member of The Prospect.
For Pezzino, losing a loved one to drug and alcohol addiction hit close to home.
In August, he said that he lost a friend to a drug and alcohol addiction after he committed suicide.
Pezzino’s band member, Billy Burke, also lost a friend to drug and alcohol addiction.
“Todd Peurifoy was my friend,” Burke said. “It sucked — he died two weeks before we graduated.”
Burke and Pezzino said they had one goal Sunday night: to set an example to others that it’s possible to have fun without using drugs or alcohol.
“They can see guys in the band having a good time without it,” Burke said. “We hope we can send that message.”
Anna McCarthy, 14, said she attended the concert to see her friends perform.
But the Manatee High School teen said she was also there to support the fight against drug and alcohol addiction.