For Rodney Collins and his two sons, Ryan and Cody Collins, much of their lives revolve around helping others through their work with D.A.R.E.
This summer all three were recognized for their work with the program that teaches school children the importance of resisting the use of drugs and alcohol.
“When we went to the International D.A.R.E Conference in Atlanta, both Ryan and I were honored and surprised when we were selected to receive awards,” Rodney said. “Ryan was selected as one of only five Youth Advisory Board members from throughout the United States to attend the conference.
“I was extremely humbled when I was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award for my work with the organization,” he added. “I knew my name had been submitted for consideration but I was completely in awe when they announced my name.”
Rodney’s youngest son, Cody, was chosen in August to replace his brother Ryan as the D.A.R.E. Youth Advisory Board Member for Missouri.
“I aged out this year so I am happy that Cody is going to have the same opportunity that I have had,” Ryan said. “I know his life is going to be very different than what he is used to but it will be good for him.
“I got to meet a lot of people I never would have had the opportunity to and traveled to a lot of places,” he added. “I have received a (D.A.R.E.) scholarship that will help with my college expenses and it really helped develop my speaking skills.”
Both Ryan and Cody had the opportunity to have their father as their D.A.R.E. instructor when they were elementary students in the Sedalia 200 School system.
Even though Rodney retired from the Sedalia Police Department in December 2015, he works as a Sedalia School District 200 school resource officer.
Now, a new generation of students will also have the opportunity to learn from him in the same capacity as his sons.
“We are starting a D.A.R.E. Program at Smith-Cotton Junior High on Sept. 15,” Rodney said. “Sgt. Brad Beard is in charge of the program and Officer Derrick DeSalme will also be teaching several of the classes but they have allowed me to teach one class that I am very excited about.
“Adam Murray, a teacher at the Junior High, requested that we teach the classes here and asked what needed to be done to get it,” he added. “I told him to speak to (Principal) Jason Curry, who contacted Brad and that was all it took to make it happen.”
Rodney added that his 25-plus years with the D.A.R.E. program is coming full circle.
“Ret. Sgt. Chet Mackiewicz was one of the first individuals who really encouraged me to do more in the program,” he said. “I think I did the same with Brad, I nominated him last year for state officer of the year which he won and it was he who nominated me for this award.
“I think all of this has been very humbling. I held every state office in D.A.R.E. except for the secretary’s office, but to have Ryan and Cody want to be a part of this has been very special,” he added. “I’ve spent over half my life with D.A.R.E. — I’ve taught it, breathed it and lived it but the most rewarding part is to see that I have made an impact on them and hopefully other children as well.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.