Wednesday, September 8, 2004

?Natural High 2?

Drug-free video premiers in Ketchum

Express Staff Writer

Tori Allen, a world-class climber and ?Natural High? athlete encourages youths to pursue their dreams in the film ?Natural High 2.? The film premiers in Ketchum on Thursday. Courtesy photo.

It takes only 20 minutes, but, in that time, the Sundt Memorial Foundation hopes to leave a lifelong impact on kids.

The foundation?s latest release, ?Natural High 2: Riding the Drug-Free Wave,? premiers 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood in Ketchum. The anti-drug film produced by the foundation features 12 young, high profile sports stars that encourage youths to stay away from drugs and alcohol and follow their dreams.

Many instrumental Wood River Valley residents are supporting the foundations? goal to spread the anti-drug message to youths across the United States.

?People locally are committed to the project,? explained Tom Iselin, who manages sponsorship and business development aspects for the nonprofit organization.

Rebecca Reush, an adventure racer from Ketchum, will speak at the screening. Others like Randy Woodruff, Mike Stevens, Shane Kinman, Tobin Jutte and Kim Schneider offer their skills from graphic design to editing and production advice.

The foundation, which is based in Sun Valley and La Jolla, Calif., hopes to release the movie this fall to 112,000 schools with the potential to reach 3.1 million kids across the country. The screening in Ketchum will be the first before the movie hits the national school circuit.

The project began as the brainchild of Jon Sundt, who lost his two brothers to drug and alcohol abuse.

?After Steven and Eric died, I thought about who their influences were,? Sundt said. ?They weren?t wholesome.?

He decided to use ?pure heroes to reach the hearts and minds of kids.? The first film featured professional surfers and skaters.

?The turning point for me was when kids started to respond,? Sundt said. After receiving letters and listening to teachers? reactions he realized, ?It passed kids? cool radar and went into their hearts.?

The newest ?Natural High? educational video series features high profile athletes like Tony Hawk, Wendy Fisher and Tori Allen speaking candidly about their decisions to pursue athletics.

?I want to spread the message that it?s OK not to fall into the trap of wanting to be cool through drugs and alcohol,? Fisher said in a recent interview. ?You can do your own thing and grow up to be a great person for it.?

?Natural High? pairs the athletes? messages with riveting sports clips. Fisher skis steep backcountry slopes and Kelly Clark takes on the X-Games.

?If you?re talking being addicted to music, culture and arts ? that is the best feeling in the world,? says Mr. Wiggles, a hip-hop dancer with the Rock Steady Crew. Between action clips, he adds, ?Addiction isn?t bad, it?s what you are addicted to.?

Kitty and Buck Jones of Ketchum, who support the mission, shared the video with their grandchildren. Their grandson frequently asks to watch the movie.

?If he?s hooked at 9 and hears the message, we hope other young people will do the same,? Jones said.

?Kid?s aren?t likely to forget the message if it?s delivered correctly,? Sundt said.

With the help of corporate and private donors, the foundation hopes to reach a record number of kids. The foundation also sponsors school assemblies and offers discussion guides in conjunction with the movie.

For more information or to make a pledge, call 726-8150 or e-mail

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