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by Julieta Santagostino Wednesday, Jul. 09, 2008 at 6:39 PM

In coordination with the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, Dennis Martinez, 1977 World Free-Style Skateboarding Champion, presented the screening of D.O.P.E (Death or Prison Eventually…”) at two skate parks in Tampa Bay on Friday June 27th. D.O.P. E. tracks the rise, fall and redemption of four major skateboard legends including Martinez.

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In coordination with the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, Dennis Martinez, 1977 World Free-Style Skateboarding Champion, presented the screening of D.O.P.E (Death or Prison Eventually…”) at two skate parks in Tampa Bay on Friday June 27th. D.O.P. E. tracks the rise, fall and redemption of four major skateboard legends including Martinez.

Tampa, Florida - How do you explain to a young person, full of vitality, that the allure of drugs can lead to years of pain and hell? Just when you think that nothing can strike you down, a few moments of what seems like fun becomes a torturous decent into degradation, crime and misery. In 1977 Dennis Martinez was 16 years old and on top of the world – literally. He was the World Free-Style skateboarding champion. A star, making a six-figure income through his teens, he soon lost everything to drugs. On Friday, June 27th, Martinez, now a pastor at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Spring Valley, California, toured through the skate parks of Tampa Bay telling his story to dozens of teens who spend their weekends at the parks just like he used to do in his youth.

In coordination with the Foundation for a Drug-Free World and to celebrate the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Dennis presented the screening of D.O.P.E (Death or Prison Eventually…”) at the Martin Luther King Recreation Center and Skatepark in Dunedin on Friday morning and at 688 Skatepark in Clearwater that evening. This film looks at four legendary world champion skateboarders, Jay Adams, Christian Hosoi, Dennis Martinez and Bruce Logan. It examines their rise to the top and their decent into the drug and crime culture and slow climb back to life. Rare archival footage and new interviews combine to explore the effect drug use has on society. The film also features narration by actor Danny Trejo, with a title song by P.O.D. and additional music by Switchfoot.

On Friday, Dennis also passionately addressed the kids about the harm that a drug-infuse life creates. He relayed his many near death experiences because of drugs and how he lost money, fame and friends and really hurt his family in the process. He has now become a pastor of a Christian Church and has his own faith- based residential rehab center in San Diego where he is helping many people get off drugs and get their life back.

At the end of the movie, Dennis had all the kids sign the Drug-Free Pledge. Representatives from the Foundation for a Drug Free World presented each teen with The Truth About Drugs booklet.

D.O.P.E. was an official selection at 10 film festivals, including the Sunscreen Film Festival in St. Petersburg, FL in March. It was the finalist of the New Jersey Film Festival. It is a valuable tool in fighting the misconceptions and allure that drugs may hold for some.
Julieta Santagostino, the president of the Florida chapter of the Foundation For a Drug Free World said, “We are honored to have had Mr. Martinez help us get the message out about the harmful effects of drugs to the youth of Tampa Bay. He is real and extremely effective in getting across to the youth that drugs destroy lives.”

Dedicated to drug education, the Foundation makes its Truth About Drugs series of booklets available to non-profit organizations free of charge. “When people have the facts, they can’t be fooled or lied to, and they will make positive decisions for their lives,” said Stephanie Bruneau, the Say No to Drugs, Say Yes to Life Program Coordinator for the Church of Scientology in Clearwater who uses the Foundation’s materials. To date, nearly 20 million Truth About Drugs booklets have been distributed in 22 languages around the world.

On the release of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime 2007 World Drug Report, the Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said, “The lives of at least one out of every 200 people in the world today are ruled by drugs.” He remarked that the world needs to change the way it looks at the drug problem and focus on defending people’s health. “It is a shared responsibility internationally,” he said.
For more information on the Foundation visit www.drugfreeworld.org and on the the movie visit www.dopethemovie.org.
(Photo caption: Dennis Martinez, 1977 World Champion Free-Style Skateboarder at 688 Skate Park in Clearwater with some teens. Martinez, in coordination with the Foundation for a Drug Free World, brought the movie D.O.P.E. to Tampa Bay to show how to avoid the pitfalls of the destructive drug culture.)
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