Concert to inform youths about drugs raises $13,000 Event held in memory of 3 who died of overdoses

August 18, 1998|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

About 1,700 people, many of them teen-agers, flocked to the Carroll Community College amphitheater on Saturday for a daylong concert held in memory of three local youths whose lives were cut short by drugs.

The brainchild of Westminster-area residents Matt Crum, 20, John Purvis, 23, and Steve Bohli, 19, who formed the band Steel Factor about four months ago, the ALPHA concert was held to warn youths about drugs. ALPHA stands for Active Locals Preventing Heroin Addiction.

"The concert turned out tons better than I had expected it to," XTC said Purvis. "We're already talking about making it an annual event."

The concert raised about $13,000, which will be distributed among organizations such as Junction Inc., Residents Attacking Drugs, the Carroll County State's Attorney's Heroin Kills campaign and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. All promote awareness, prevention or treatment of drug and alcohol abuse.

"We haven't decided how the money will be divided up yet," Purvis said. Organizers of the concert are meeting tonight to make that decision, he added.

Members of Steel Factor started planning the concert in June, after Liam O'Hara, a 15-year-old Westminster High School student, died of a heroin overdose Jan. 9.

O'Hara's death inspired parents and students to hold town meetings and anti-drug seminars in an effort to stem the use of heroin in Carroll County. A crackdown by state and local police followed the teen's death.

His was the second overdose death in the county in less than two years. A third followed a month later.

In June 1996, 16-year-old Michael "Scott" Payne was found dead in his room. An autopsy attributed the death to a drug overdose. In February, Westminster-area resident Darrell Burnette, 21, died. Law enforcement officials said last week that he died of a heroin overdose.

The highlight of Saturday's concert was a performance by Crack the Sky, a popular Baltimore band. The Patty Reese Band and the Alley Katz, a rap group from Baltimore, also performed.

For many, the most touching moment occurred when Michael O'Hara, Liam's father, spoke.

"He talked about finding his son's body, and what it's like to be a parent who has lost a child this way," said Patricia Holbert, a candidate for county commissioner who helped organize the event. "He also sang a song that he had written about his son. It was very moving. The kids were riveted.

"Even if we hadn't made a dime on the concert, all the work would have been worth it," she added. "We got the message out, and that's the important thing."

Pub Date: 8/18/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.