BAXTER -- Wednesday's rain and cold weather didn't keep Mothers Against Drunk Driving/Youth In Action from getting their message out: "Stay afloat: don't drink in the boat."
That message, as well as putting a stop to underage drinking, was the theme of Youth In Action's news conference in the parking lot of Cub Foods in Baxter to bring awareness to alcohol safety in connection with this weekend's fishing opener.
"We're having the event here to draw attention to certain issues," said Jan Grace-Culvin, a MADD-Minnesota representative. "This is about not providing alcohol to youth, and it's about safe boating."
Alicia Rehnblom, youth keynote speaker, has lost two important people in her life to drunk drivers. And she wants to spread awareness about the effects of drinking, even in a boat.
"I don't want to see any more of my peers and friends killed because of alcohol," she said.
Youth In Action was also out in force to let adults know of their responsibility as well. Youth In Action handed out copies of Kevin's Law, passed in November 1999. It states it is a felony for anyone over 21 to knowingly provide alcohol to a minor.
Youth In Action was represented at Cub Foods not only by the local chapter, but also by chapters from high schools in White Bear Lake, Minnetonka and Minneapolis South.
Erin Peters and Maggie Snettling, Youth In Action members from Minneapolis South, have both attended similar rallies and news conferences around the state and thought the Brainerd event was beneficial.
"I think it's a really good idea," Snettling said.
"My dad fishes, and it would be sad if I lost him," Peters added.
Along with the student speakers, Youth In Action invited several speakers from the area, including Dave Csanda of In-Fisherman; Frank Ball, Brainerd police chief; Kurt Mowers, State Patrol; Neil Gaalswyk, Crow Wing County sheriff's boating officer; and Pat Bluth, Youth In Action director.
"The two most important things I can tell you is to wear a life jacket, and don't drink in the boat," Gaalswyk said. "We have zero tolerance for lack of both. Stay alive."
Csanda summed up the importance of not drinking while boating, stating that while on the water people have the illusion of wide-open spaces. In truth, he said, a lake can be a lot more crowded than one would think, and mixing drugs or alcohol on the water can be deadly.
"Any time your judgment is impaired, it can become a very, very nasty situation," Csanda said.
Also representing the local Youth In Action chapter were Matt Logering, Shaun Rakowski, Adam Brown, John Maattala, Peter Vanderhagen, Laurelei Chambers, Kyle O'Grady and Megan Kohls.
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