Pack Foundation film draws a crowd | March 21, 2008 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - March 21, 2008

Pack Foundation film draws a crowd

Reality-style drama roars: Don't drink and drive

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Teens, parents and supporters poured into the East Bay Fellowship auditorium in Danville last Thurday night for the premiere of "Graduation Day." The reality-style film produced by the Troy and Alana Pack Foundation walloped the audience hard with the message: Don't drink and drive.

Showing the film at the high schools could definitely make a difference, agreed Steve Roberts and Hannah Zidaritz, students at San Ramon Valley High, after the presentation.

"When you're a teenager, you think you're invincible," said Zidaritz.

But she said she wasn't feeling that way after viewing the movie, which shows the impact of a car crash when a drunken teen runs a red light. Audience members jumped when the collision suddenly occurred. It's followed by several minutes of screaming as the girl sees her boyfriend's dead body covered by emergency crews.

"At first, I thought it was a real story," Roberts said. "I think it's better than Every 15 Minutes."

They agreed the party scenes and the teen portrayals were realistic.

Every 15 Minutes is a two-day presentation given every few years at high schools who can afford the $50,000 to re-enact a fatal accident and its aftermath. After being guest speakers at such an event, Bob and Carmen Pack talked about a less expensive way to get the message to teens, and "Graduation Day" was the result. The Packs founded the Troy and Alana Pack Foundation after their children were killed in 2003 by a driver who was under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

"Graduation Day" is hosted by Dan Rather, who volunteered a day of his time to film in New York. It uses four teenage actors, one of whom was introduced after the viewing, along with producer Rebecca Brown and director Andrew Gallery.

Before "Graduation Day" was shown, Bob Pack gave a tribute to U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos (D., San Mateo), who died Feb. 11. When Bob and Carmen Pack wanted to bring her niece Pamela to the United States from Peru for an egg donation for them to have another child, her request for a visa was denied by the U.S. Embassy. Local lawmakers sympathized and sent faxes but to no avail.

After reading about their plight in the Chronicle, Lantos, a Holocaust survivor, called them and said, "This is not what America is about." He used his powers of persuasion to get the niece a visa.

"And now we have a 2-year-old baby," said Pack, wiping tears from his eyes.

Their daughter Noelle was dancing on the stage before her babysitter brought her to the rear for the presentation to begin.

The Pack Foundation has entered into a partnership with Scholastic to distribute "Graduation Day" to 20,000 high schools, to reach 25 million teens nationwide, along with information about why it is important.

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