Hagerstown talent to sing their hearts out for Washington Goes Purple
American Idol-Washington Goes Purple Style! will take place from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Hager Hall Conference and Event Center in Hagerstown.
Performers sent out audition tapes that were posted on Washington Goes Purple’s Facebook page.
“This is our first major fundraiser,” said Vicki Sterling, director of behavioral health for the Washington County Health Department and co-chair of Washington Goes Purple.
“We wanted to make it family-friendly and youth-appropriate, so we put out invitations for people to send out audition tapes, and we posted them on our Facebook page. The public got to vote for the top seven, so we took the top seven with the most votes.”
Along with attendees voting at their tables as they eat dinner, there will be local celebrity judges, including Donna Long, director of operations for the Washington County Chamber of Commerce; E.J. Fuller, development director at the Boys and Girls Club of Washington County; Kevin Simmers, founder of Brooke’s House; and Sgt. Eric Knode of the Hagerstown Police Department.
“They’ll perform on Feb. 9 and the tables will get to judge the individuals,” Sterling said. “People bought tables, and they’ll get to vote for who they like the best. We also have community celebrity judges, and they’re all linked to our cause — the Chamber of Commerce, Boys and Girls Club, Brooke’s House and Hagerstown City Police. We wanted to make it family-friendly; there’s no age limit. After the contest, we have a band performing called Staff Infection. They’re actually teachers and principals from the Washington County Public Schools.”
Washington Goes Purple, which launched in September, spreads awareness of the prescription drug abuse epidemic in Washington County and beyond.
“Washington Goes Purple is modeled after Talbot Goes Purple, and it’s geared to educate our youth in our community about the dangers of prescription pain medication,” Sterling said. “Nearly 80 percent of heroin users start with prescription medications. We have been really active toward the opioid crisis, but to make headway, we have to educate our youth.
“Talbot County actually started with Chris Herren. He was a Boston Celtic, and he started the Purple Project. It shows that anyone can become addicted. His was from an injury.”
Sterling added, “Through Washington Goes Purple, we’ve had three messages — prescription pain medication is synthetic heroin; proper disposal of unused medication; and the third was the Good Samaritan law: If you’re in the presence of someone who is overdosing, you will not be criminally responsible if you report it. That goes with underage drinking. We talk to the kids that if you’re with a friend and something happens, you need to call 911.”
The proceeds of Washington Goes Purple-American Idol Style will be used for scholarships that will be administered by the Community Foundation of Washington County.
Washington County high school seniors can apply for one of the 10 scholarships awarded. One scholarship will also be awarded to a non-traditional student, which does not have to be a graduating high school senior.
Essays must be 1,000 words or less, and discuss the following three points of interest:
- How the opioid crisis has personally affected you, your family or your community and how you would like to help resolve the crisis or how you would use your education to help.
- How the Washington Goes Purple campaign or other community involvement activities have made an impact and how you would use your education to help further efforts.
- How you will use your education to advocate at both the local and federal levels of government and suggest solutions that could be implemented at both the personal and government levels to alleviate the escalating rates of addiction.
Sterling believes that prescription painkiller abuse is not being talked about enough, so she hopes that between Saturday’s event and the emphasis to get students involved in the essay contest, that will change.
“Drinking and driving, texting and driving, unprotected sex — these are conversations that we’re having with our kids,” she said. “But we’re not having the conversation about prescription painkillers and we need to change that. I hope a lot of people come out and support us.”
Top photo: Front row, from left: David Washington, Washington County Health Department Harm Reduction Services; and Robert Zellner, peer support for Washington County. Back row, from left: Washington County Circuit Judge Brett Wilson; Vicki Sterling, co-founder of Washington Goes Purple; Washington County Sheriff Doug Mullendore; City Councilwoman Emily Keller; Lyndsay Nave, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office; and Star Kimmel, Farmers Insurance. (Submitted photo)