It’s an event that is all about kids helping kids. The annual Join the Winners night, held at Kenmore East High School on March 14, brought together the classes of Kenmore East for a common cause… an evening of fun and a chance to give back by raising money for Kids Escaping Drugs. On Tuesday, April 1st, Kenmore East students and staff presented a check for $4,500.00 to Kids Escaping Drugs. Kenmore East’s Join the Winners event is a popular evening which features friendly competition between classes as students take part in relay races, “minute-to-win-it” games, and a T-shirt decorating contest. Money is raised through the sale of tickets for admission and paper chain links to decorate the gym. All proceeds are donated to Kids Escaping Drugs. Over 600 students and staff took part in this year’s event. Among them was Derek Baker, Class of 2014 president, who enjoyed his final Join the Winners as he prepares to graduate in June. ” Baker recognizes the importance of supporting the programs offered through Kids Escaping Drugs. “Not everyone is as fortunate,” said Baker. “Kids who need extra help are in a place to get that help. We are happy to be a part of providing them with the assistance that they need.” Bob O’Connor, science teacher, has coordinated Join the Winners for the last 21 years. “So many people play a role in making the night a success and the kids get to play a part in doing something so much larger then themselves as they raise money for a good cause,” said O’Connor. O’Connor explained that Join the Winners was initially created to support Kids Escaping Drugs and the tradition has been carried on. “Many students need a second chance at life after some sort of addiction and this is one way that Kenmore East can help those students have that chance,” he said. Deanna Messinger, Director of Development for Kids Escaping Drugs, visited Kenmore East High School and spoke to officers from the Class of 2014 about the ways the donation will assist young people. She explained that the money raised will support the various programs offered through Kids Escaping Drugs, including a 62 person in-patient rehabilitation facility in West Seneca, prevention programs for adults and young people in 100 schools across Western New York, and early intervention programs for children and their parents. Chelsea Masich, senior, co-hosted the event. “I enjoyed hosting Join the Winners because it brings our school together. I was happy to be a part of helping a good cause.” PHOTO: Kenmore East presents a donation of $4,500.00 to Kids Escaping Drugs. (left to right) Chelsea Masich, Nathan Bourke, Madison Rainey, Graham Jones, Wei Wang, Deanna Messinger and Christina Kruzer from Kids Escaping Drugs, Richie Brinkman, Derek Baker, Samantha Termini, Bob O’Connor.