Courageous Persuaders Awards $23,000 in Scholarships at Gala Awards Celebration

Students honored for creating videos that discourage underage drinking, drinking and driving and texting while driving

May 21, 2015

Troy, Mich., May 21, 2015 – The Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) hosted the annual Courageous Persuaders Awards Celebration, at which high school students, who took a stand against underage drinking, drinking and driving, and texting and driving, won $23,000 in scholarships and awards. The event, which took place on Wednesday, May 20 at the Emagine Theater in Royal Oak, Mich. Renowned Detroit television personality Huel Perkins, anchor at WJBK FOX2, was the MC for the event.

The DADA is the primary sponsor and administrator of the Courageous Persuaders program, which is facilitated through the DADA Education Foundation.

“The importance of the Courageous Persuaders message cannot be understated,” said DADA President Sam Slaughter. “By discouraging underage drinking, drinking and driving, and texting and driving, these young people can impact those that follow and admire them, passing forward the message that it is not ok to drink underage, drink and drive, or text while driving. It is a program of hope for a better, wiser and more responsible generation of young people.”

Now in its 15th year, Courageous Persuaders is a competition where high school students create 30-second television commercials warning middle school students about the dangers of underage drinking, drinking and driving, and texting while driving. The contest drew 478 entries from 192 high schools, and involved thousands of students from schools throughout the U.S., Canada and Armed Forces of Columbia.

The program also announced two new awards. The first is an expansion of the State Farm Fan Favorite Award, originally a $2,500 award to the school of the Fan Favorite winner, as selected from the finalists after viewing on the Courageous Persuaders YouTube site. This year, State Farm also presented a $1,000 scholarship to the student team that produced the Fan Favorite winner. The other new award is the Texting While Driving Award, a $1,000 scholarship sponsored by the DADA.

Student scholarships and award winners:

  • Grand Prize, $3,000 – “Wait” by Ryan Wright, Grand Blanc High School, Grand Blanc, Mich.
  • First Place, $1,500 – “Beer or no Beer” by Tucker Simmons, Careerline Tech Center, Holland, Mich.
  • Second Place, $1,000 – “Drinking is Expensive” by Daniel Gwin, Vicksburg High School, Vicksburg, Mich.
  • Third Place, $500 – “Choose Your Values Wisely” by Matt Clark and Emerson Pfeiffer, Saline High School, Saline, Mich.

In addition, annual awards were presented to the following:

  • Lindsey Renee Cianciolo Family Memorial Scholarship $3,000 – two $1,500 Michigan based scholarship winners: “Labels” by Matthew Morello, Forest Hills Northern High School,Grand Rapids, Mich., and “Going Nowhere Me” by Matthew Millenbach, Melissa Millenbach, Grosse Pointe South High School, Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.
  • DADA Award, $2,000 – contributed by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association: “Cool Kings” by Katherine Salvatori, Pine View School, Osprey, Fla.
  • Michelin Award, $2,000 – “First and Last” by Daisy Vandenberge, Kajsa Rye, Tara Rye, Stephenson High School, Stephenson, Mich.
  • Adcraft Club of Detroit Award, $2,000 – presented to the commercial that conveyed factual information about the dangers of alcohol use in the most persuasive and creative manner: “Battling the Consequences ” by Shane Ciora, William Woods, Lake Orion High School, Lake Orion, Mich.
  • Texting While Driving Award, $1,000 – sponsored by the DADA: “Why Would You?” by Rishi Agarwal, Morristown High School, Morris Plains, NJ.
  • AutoTrader Award, $2,000 – “Tick Tock” by Tommy Derken, Matt Lentz, Matt Zhang, Barrington High School, Barrington, Ill.
  • State Farm Award, $1,000 – chosen based on the commercial’s effectiveness on the dangers and consequences of underage drinking and automobile usage: “Numbers” by Colllin Arrowood, Taina Santiago, Utica Center for Science and Industry, Sterling Heights, Mich.
  • College for Creative Studies Award, a $250 Award and a portfolio or reel review – “Mr. Solo” by Evan Gulock, Royal Oak High School, Royal Oak, Mich.
  • Wall Street Journal Courageous Leader Award – presented to a special teacher for his or her extraordinary contribution to the Courageous Persuaders program: John Mozdzierz, Digital Arts Teacher, Howell High School.
  • State Farm Fan Favorite Award, $2,500 to the winning school and $1,000 to the student team – “Is a Text Worth Your Life?” Lenawee ISD TECH Center (High School), Jayr Otero (Student producer), Adrian, Mich.

In addition to the scholarship, the grand prize-winning student receives the opportunity to participate in a professional editing session to make the video broadcast ready by Pluto Post Productions. The commercial will be broadcast on the Courageous Persuaders Web site, on television, and will be televised in select branches of the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office. For information, and to view the winning videos, go to

The Courageous Persuaders program was created in 2000 by the late Oakland County District Judge Michael A. Martone and John Barczyk, a local McCann-Erickson advertising executive (retired).  In 2007, the DADA became the primary sponsor and administrator of the Courageous Persuaders program through its DADA Education Foundation.

About the DADA Education Foundation
The mission of the DADA Education Foundation is to promote excellence in education through quality programs and leadership. In addition to the Courageous Persuaders program, the Foundation also administers Automotive Education Day at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), and the NAIAS Poster Contest.

About Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA)
The DADA was founded in 1907 by 17 local car dealers, and has grown to 200 member car and truck dealers who donate their time and resources to a host of community activities. Currently, the DADA members collectively employ more than 16,000 people.

Many members participate in the NAIAS, LLC, which is responsible for the production of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). The most significant charitable venture of the DADA is the annual NAIAS Charity Preview, which has raised more than $87 million for children’s charities in southeastern Michigan since 1976, of which $36 million was raised in the last seven years alone. To find out more about Detroit Auto Dealers Association, visit To find out the latest about the North American International Auto Show, visit

For further information: Sandy Herp, 248.283.5138,