Nearly $30,000 in Scholarships Awarded to High School Students at Courageous Persuaders Gala

TROY, Mich.May 8, 2018 — The Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) hosted its annual Courageous Persuaders Awards Celebration on Wednesday, May 2 at the Emagine Theater in Royal Oak, MI, where nearly $30,000 in scholarships and awards were granted to high school students. These courageous students took a stand to raise awareness amongst their peers on the dangers of underage drinking, drinking and driving and texting while driving.

“Courageous Persuaders provides a platform for bright young minds to take a stand against everyday pressures and convey thought-provoking messages to their peers,” said Doug North, DADA President. “The DADA is committed to making a positive impact in our local communities and I’m confident that lives have been saved as a result of the messages conveyed in these powerful videos.”

Now in its 18th 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 632 entries from 225 high schools, and has involved over 900 students from 40 states across the U.S. and from British Columbia. Nearly 1,100 middle school students viewed and evaluated the videos as part of the judging process. Courageous Persuaders continues to grow in scope and reach each year as it connects with more students and partners across the nation.

“Courageous Persuaders would not be possible if it were not for the gracious support from our partner companies,” added North. “Underage drinking, drinking and driving, and distracted driving are national problems and having longstanding partnership with State Farm has allowed us to expand our national reach and ultimately positively impact more lives.”

Student scholarships and award winners:

  • Grand Prize, $3,000 – “Listen to the Signs” by Shane Verkest, Frederick V. Pankow Center, Clinton Twp., MI.
  • State Farm Fan Favorite Award, $2,500 (winning school) – International Academy, Bloomfield Hills, MI and State Farm Fan Favorite Award, $1,000 (winning student) – “Resist the Temptation” by Anthony Marx and Stefan Sapiano, International Academy, Bloomfield Hills, MI.
  • DADA Award, $2,000, Dangers of Underage Drinking – “Lucy” by Dakotah Hasley, Lenawee ISD Tech Center, Adrian, MI.
  • DADA Award, $2,000, Dangers of Texting While Driving – “Get Comfortable” by Wyatt Cuculis and William Cuculis, Dallastown Area High School, Dallastown, PA.
  • Adcraft 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 – “Inverse” by Will Baker, Careerline Tech Center, Holland, MI.
  • Michelin Award, $2,000 – “Dear…” by Natalie Davis, Weber High School, Pleasant View, UT.
  • AutoTrader/Kelley Blue Book Award, $2,000 – “Leaving Prom” by Jessica LynchFenton High SchoolFenton, MI.
  • Harold and Carolyn Robison Foundation Award – “The Day I Died” by Lydia Oliver, Byron Center High School, Byron Center, MI.
  • First Place, Courageous Persuaders Award, $2,000, Dangers of Underage Drinking – “Hey, It’s Maddie” by Maddie Miller, Lake Orion High School, Lake Orion, MI.
  • Friends of Linsey Renee Cianciolo Memorial Fund, $1,500 – “You’re Not Alone” by Trenton Woodbeck and Colin ShaughnessyFenton High SchoolFenton, MI.
  • Lindsey Renee Cianciolo Family Memorial Fund, $1,500 – “Keep Your Word” by Eli Fallon, Lake Orion High School, Lake Orion, MI
  • State Farm Award, $1,000chosen based on the commercial’s effectiveness on the dangers and consequences of underage drinking and automobile usage – “promises” by Hayley Giordano, West Brunswick High School, Shallotte, NC.
  • Michigan Film and Digital Media Office Award, $1,000 – “Pieces to Pieces” by Tyle Battershell, Lake Orion High School, Lake Orion, MI.
  • Second Place, $1,000, Courageous Persuaders Award, Dangers of Underage Drinking – “Voiceover Guy” by Nathaniel Zaccagnini, Frederick V. Pankow Center, Clinton Twp. MI.
  • Courageous Persuaders Award, $1,000 – “Just Put Your Phone Away,” by Eitan MillerChatham High SchoolChatham, NJ.
  • Third Place, $500, Courageous Persuaders Award, Dangers of Underage Drinking – “Don’t Pour Your Life Away” by Alice PlummerLauren BaylessZach Donegan, Frederick V. Pankow Center, Clinton Twp. MI.
  • Wall Street Journal – Courageous Leader Award – Tamela Blaszkowski, teacher at Lake Shore High School, St. Clair Shores, MI.
  • Oakland University Award, $500 –  “Take the Pledge,” by Mikaylah Duffield, Columbia Central High School, Brooklyn, MI.
  • College for Creative Studies Award, $250 – “Don’t Let Drinking Distort Your Future” by Armanur Rahman and Santina Zeetow, Fitzgerald High School, Warren, MI.

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 website, on television, and will be televised in select branches of the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office. For more information on the program, 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 over 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 $117 million for children’s charities in southeastern Michigan since 1976, of which $40 million was raised in the last 10 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

SOURCE Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA)