September 5, 2015: Festive Gala An Example Of The Best Of Cobb County

I witnessed the best of Cobb County this past Sunday evening. I saw people – a lot of people – from all walks of life come together at the Marietta Performing Arts Center to help a family turn tragedy into triumph by giving generously of their time and talent and money to support a worthy endeavor and to have a fun time while doing it.

There was no talk of bond financing, traffic problems (real or perceived), Lisa Cupid (Thank you, Lord!), BRT or bridges. Instead, it was all about the Davis Direction Foundation.

I mentioned the Davis Direction Foundation to you a couple of weeks ago. In March of last year, Missy and Michael Owen were notified that their oldest son, Davis, had been found dead in his car of a heroin overdose. He was 20. Davis had been an honor student at Kennesaw Mountain High School, president of his senior class and a member of the school’s Hall of Fame.

The family decided the best way to deal with their grief was to honor their son’s memory by creating the Davis Direction Foundation and focus on raising public awareness of the dangers of opiate/heroin addiction that begins in many cases with an abuse of prescription drugs. That takes money, of course, and that led to the decision to stage a benefit and to enlist the aid of Earl Reece, the esteemed retired director of the Earl Smith Strand Theater, to stage a Tony Award -winning musical, called “And the Winner Is. . . .” It was a winner.

I am a bit biased about Earl Reece but he could inspire a yardstick to sing “Amazing Grace.” Give him the cast of talented singers and dancers I saw on the stage Sunday evening and he will knock your socks off. I can’t pass myself off as a music critic but I know good stuff when I see it and these young people were extraordinarily good and most from right here in town.

Mr. Reece is also a pretty fair auctioneer. During the live auction between acts, he managed to cajole someone into paying a lot of money to have lunch with me. I couldn’t wait to get home to inform the Woman Who Shares My Name just how lucky she is that I don’t charge her for the privilege of eating with me. She just rolled her eyes and told me to take out the trash. She can be a hard woman.

Amid the fun and food and fellowship, there was a sobering reminder of why we were there. Georgia’s Attorney General Sam Olens, former chairman of the Cobb Commission, talked to the audience about the issue of young people misusing or abusing prescription drugs and the dire consequences that can result. In a nutshell: Too many do and some may die.

The AG also discussed his initiative to enlist the talent of Georgia high school students across the state to produce a 30-second video on the subject of prescription drug abuse, entitled, “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” The winning entry will be seen on television across the state, courtesy of the Georgia Association of Broadcasters.  And who knows, it might just save a life or two.

Missy Owens wrote me this week to say the event grossed over $65,000 and added, “If you consider the in-kind donations that were a part of the event, the numbers skyrocket.  All the food and beverage at our event came from our wonderful vendors at absolutely no cost.  Every performer and our director, Earl Reece, donated their time and talent to this event and to the cause. The auction items were donated, the linens and decorations were donated, the playbill setting and printing was donated, the majority of the costumes were donated, the photography was donated, the many volunteers generously donated their time, the wood and labor for the stage was donated, the list goes on and on.”

Ms. Owen says, “I was completely overwhelmed by the generosity of our community. I know Davis was smiling down on our event and asking God to ensure a brighter future for those who are still suffering.”

I think Ms. Owen and everyone involved in the Davis Forward Foundation gala would tell you that nobody was required to give up their Sunday evening to attend this event or to give up weeks and months to put it together. They did it because that is who we are –good people helping other good people for a good cause.   This is the real “Cobb Way” and it is what makes this county special.


You can reach Dick Yarbrough at yarb2400@bellsouth.net; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139; online at dickyarbrough.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb