Barr-Reeve School Corporation received the Gary Sandifur Tobacco Free School Award Thursday. The award recognizes schools in Indiana that have a tobacco-free campus, which is achieved by prohibiting tobacco use by students, all school staff, parents, and visitors on school property and in school vehicles 24 hours a day.
“The Indiana State Department of Health –Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission, and the Daviess County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coalition, applaud Barr-Reeve for protecting the health of our students, staff, and visitors. This school corporation is a leader in the community for protecting others from tobacco smoke, the number one preventable killer of Daviess County residents,” said Sally Petty, coordinator of the Daviess County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coalition.
The award is named after Gary Sandifur, a dedicated husband and father from Kokomo, Indiana. He was also a life-long smoker. Gary had promised his family that on his 50th birthday, he would quit smoking. Before turning 50, Gary began experiencing headaches and dizziness. He visited his doctor for testing. The day before his 50th birthday, he received the results of his tests: brain tumors. Gary later found out that he had stage-4 lung cancer and that the cancer had spread from his lungs to his brain. Gary had promised his family that he wouldn’t smoke after he turned 50. He was right.
After learning that he was dying of cancer, Gary began to speak to children and teenagers about the dangers of smoking. He wanted to get the message out to as many people as possible: that smoking was not worth the risk involved. Gary didn’t get to finish the job he stated. After living twice as long as the doctors told him he would, and talking to as many kids as he could, Gary lost his battle with cancer. His wife, Lorene Sandifur, decided to continue the work Gary had begun. She and Gary became the subject of a series of commercials about the effects of tobacco in Indiana. She continues to speak to children, teenagers and adults about the harmful effects of tobacco, helping to finish the job her husband started, but was unable to complete.