New York State Sen. Brian Foley (D – Blue Point) stopped by Sachem East Friday afternoon to commemorate Red Ribbon Week and urge the passage by the state legislature of Denise's Law.
Flanked by Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice and Town of Brookhaven Highway Superintendent John Rouse, Foley is days away from learning his fate next week for whether or not he'll retain his senate seat.
Since this year's Red Ribbon Week theme is "I am drug free," Foley challenged students from Sachem East to sign drug free pledges and to wear red ribbons to help raise awareness to the dangers of drugs.
Former Sachem student Denise Gerardi passed away in 2009 following an accidental overdose and Foley has spearheaded the potential legislation for the law named in Gerardi's honor.
"Everyday across our state, and right here on Long Island, youth are struggling with substance abuse problems," he said. "We have a duty to them, to their peers and to their families to do everything in our power to prevent drug abuse through education about its effects and by helping to make seeking treatment a little bit easier."
Rice said Denise's Law is, "a common sense piece of legislation."
The law would help parents seek court orders to keep their children in drug detoxification programs, as well as require health insurance companies to cover the cost of detoxification treatment. Right now, children can sign themselves out.
According to Foley's office, between 2005 and 2008, arrests on heroin-related charges rose in Suffolk County by 126 percent and Nassau County by 91 percent. There were over 100 drug related deaths in 2008 on Long Island.
If Foley is not reelected next week, he said Sen. Craig Johnson (D- Great Neck) would likely stick with it through the end.
"I'd like to see him carry on the fight," he said.
How does Foley feel about the election?
"We feel fine," he said. "It's close. We're not taking anything for granted and we're going right until Tuesday night, but today was about a reclamation of what we started last year … developing legislation to empower parents to help children who have drug abuse problems."