Opening Ceremony Wows Attendees
“Good morning life-savers and crime fighters!” With these words from NADCP CEO West Huddleston the unforgettable opening ceremony was underway.
Watch Highlights of the Opening Ceremony
Following a stirring National Anthem by rising Nashville star Sarah Margaret Huff attendees settled in for the show.
They were treated to an incredible video documenting All Rise America! The National Motorcycle Relay for Recovery. The lights came up to reveal a special guest, Marvel Comics’ Captain America from the blockbuster film, The Avengers.
West Huddleston announces Marvel Comics as new Drug Court Champion
“On behalf of your new champion Marvel Entertainment and my friends at Siemens, I congratulate the participants, graduates, courts, riders, and the NADCP on the inaugural All Rise America National Motorcycle Relay for Recovery,” Captain America said. “Thank you all for your work to support every American in need, in the fight for freedom from addiction.“
But the real hero of the morning was Mike Jones, a participant in the Orange County Combat Veterans Treatment Court who served nine tours in Afghanistan and Iraq with the Army Rangers before losing his leg in an IED explosion. Jones told the crowd, “Veterans Court gave me the accountability that I so greatly needed. It forced me to make treatment and sobriety a priority which has given me a newfound outlook on life.”
Sergeant Mike Jones
With the crowd still buzzing over Mike Jones’ speech, United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) General Council Will Gunn discussed the VA’s support for Veterans Treatment Courts. “When you consider that the first Veterans Treatment Court was opened in January of 2008 and we are up to 97 it is amazing. This is truly a movement,” he said.
As Mr. Gunn left the stage, the twang of a banjo rang out as the three members of the Nashville-based Dakota Jay Band asked attendees to rise and join them in a rousing rendition of the Tennessee classic, Rocky Top.
The Dakota Jay Band leads attendees in a singing of Rocky Top
Bureau of Justice Assistance Director Denise O’Donnell took the stage next and reiterated her strong support, saying: “It is inspiring for me to look at 4,000 of you and see how many dedicated professionals we have engaged in the Drug Court world.”
VA General Council Will Gunn BJA Director Denise O'Donnell
White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske came bearing a message from President Obama. “Drug Courts are essential to our efforts to break the cycle of drug abuse, crime, incarceration, and rearrest,” he read.
ONDCP Director Gil Kerlikowske holds up a special Drug Court message from President Obama
“My name is Adam McLean, I pled into Drug Court in 2005. Drug Court literally saved my life and today I am here to say thank you and introduce you to an amazing group of people who exhibit qualities we never knew existed.” And with that, the 2012 Parade of Transformation was underway:
Watch the Entire 2012 Parade of Transformation
Opening Ceremony Slideshow