October 22, 2021

Abuse ‘took that all away’

Speaker to warn students of substance abuse in McGraw

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

McGraw seniors Marissa Jenney, left, and River Milsapp, right, set up a display promoting items to be raffled, bringing awareness to substance abuse and a safe prom night. An assembly is scheduled for Tuesday to warn students about the hazards of substance abuse. The speaker is Ken Bartolo, a former college athlete who plans to discuss his struggle with drugs.

McGRAW — A professional lacrosse player and high school sports star turned- addict from Onondaga County will speak Tuesday to McGraw kids and residents as part of a day-long program examining substance abuse.

Ken Bartolo, a former Jamesville- Dewitt High School athlete, will speak at 7 p.m. in the McGraw High School auditorium to parents and residents, and student assemblies on drug use are planned for fifth- through eighth-graders and high school students.

McGraw High School Principal Mark Dimorier said he hopes Bartolo’s story will resonate with the students.

“You have somebody who’s been down that road, he had it all,” Dimorier said. “And abuse took that all away.”

Bartolo was a two-time all county athlete in football and lacrosse at Jamesville-Dewitt High School who went on to play football at St. John Fisher College and lacrosse at Nazareth College, according to his website, kenbartolothereandback.com.

He also played a season with the Rochester Greywolves.

However, addiction that started with a reliance on pain killers he was prescribed after sports injuries gradually took over his life.

“If we have one student that listens and decides not to go down that road, then it’s money well spent,” Dimorier said.

Accompanying Bartolo’s evening presentation, Cortland Prevention Services, Syracuse Recovery Services and Cortland Area Communities that Care will set up displays.

The McGraw junior and senior classes will also have a table set up promoting an after-prom party.

Refreshments and door prizes will be offered.