Drive to stay off drugs
Tom Davis is driven to keep his grandchildren — and other kids — from making the mistakes he made. So he’s driving forward with an anti-drug, anti-dropout message.
“Keep kids off drugs,” reads the message printed boldly across both sides of a shiny black car. “Stop bullying. Stay in school.”
Davis, a long-haul trucker, has been clean and sober for years. But in his younger days, he said, “I drank and partied.”
He also dropped out of school. He left in 10th grade, after struggling with reading for years because of dyslexia.
Luckily, he said, he was able to find a job with Del Smith at Evergreen Helicopters, and learned to drive a truck. He hauled cars for the Smith brothers racing team for several years.
But he said, “My life was just going to pieces.” So he turned to drugs, which just made things worse.
Fortunately, he said, he got back on track with the encouragement of local law enforcement officials. He said police officers Steve McCartney and Robert Harmon, sheriff’s deputy Joe Shipley and Sheriff Jack Crabtree were especially helpful, and friend Randy Freeborn helped offer him the tough love he needed.
“I admitted I had a problem,” he said. “They worked with me to get me off drugs.”
He went to treatment and is now doing well — so well, he feels he’s in a position to help others.
He bought a 2007 Crown Victoria at a Yamhill County surplus auction with the idea of turning it into a Drug Abuse Resistance Education car. He figured he could take the DARE vehicle to local schools and events and drive it in parades, like the one associated with Sheridan Days.
He fixed up the former police cruiser’s engine and transmission, and had the body painted black. Then he took it to Lafayette Auto Body, where owner Steve Grittman added pin striping and emblazoned it with the anti-drug words.
“I’m kind of doing this for my grandkids,” Davis said.
He said he wants them — and other kids — to take his advice to heart. “Stay off drugs, stay in school, get your education and be successful, like my son-in-law and daughter,” he said, noting proudly that Timothy and Jackie Porter have good jobs, making them “winners in life.”
The Porter kids — Kaylei, 11, Avalon, 7, Jacob, 7, and Rose, 14 months — are proud of their grandpa’s efforts. They’re thrilled by the car and they know the message by heart.
“It’s to keep kids off drugs,” Avalon said.