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Laguna's anti-drug crusader

High school senior Garrett Burk has been recognized for his efforts to reduce abuse of prescription medication.

December 19, 2013|By Bryce Alderton
  • Laguna Beach High School senior Garrett Burk received an award from the Major League Baseball commissioner's office for his dedication to educating people on dangers of prescription drug abuse.
Laguna Beach High School senior Garrett Burk received… (Don Leach, Coastline…)

Garrett Burk wasn't about to sit idle if it meant one less person would reach for a powerful painkiller or other drug that wasn't medically necessary.

The Laguna Beach High School senior and infielder on the baseball team wants others to know that prescription drug abuse is dangerous and rampant.

Major League Baseball Charities, in cooperation with the Partnership at Drugfree.org, an organization dedicated to preventing teen drug and alcohol abuse, noticed Burk's efforts and rewarded him earlier this month.

Burk, 18, and Steve Carter, a youth coach from Beltsville, Md., received the fourth annual Commissioner's Play Healthy Awards, which recognize coaches and athletes nationwide for their dedication to fair, drug-free play and an overall healthy lifestyle, according to a news release.

A group of parents, coaches and industry professionals selected Burk and Carter, and both men received an all-expense paid trip to New York City to accept their awards.

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"Coach Carter and Garrett Burk are two outstanding winners who deserve recognition for the way they have competed and for their commitment to influence others to live healthy lives," MLB Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said in the release.

Burk started the group Laguna Prescription Drug Awareness, which educates the public about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and suggests ways to keep certain medicine in check.

The group has about 18 members, most of whom are in high school, according to Burk. The group promotes biannual prescription drug take-back days in Laguna Beach.

Burk shied away from taking the credit for the group's achievements.

When asked if he was the president of Laguna Prescription Drug Awareness, Burk replied: "I'm one of the leaders."

The Laguna Beach Police Department and City Council helped the group set up a permanent drop-off box for unneeded or expired prescription drugs earlier this year outside the front doors of the department office at 505 Forest Ave.

More than 150 pounds of prescription drugs have been dropped off in the past three months, Burk announced at last week's council meeting.

Burk got involved with the group during his sophomore year.

"I saw how many kids in south Orange County [abuse] prescription drugs," Burk said. "It's a huge problem. I had family-related issues [with prescription drugs] and decided that something needs to be done."

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