Congratulations to these students! We applaud the hard work you are doing in your schools and communities to make a difference.

Student Scholarship Winner


Linnea Bjornson
La Salle Academy – Tiverton, RI
All I can say is that I’ve been there. I was that scared little girl watching from the corner as her loved one deteriorated from addiction. And I had no way in hell of knowing how to stop it. The Herren Project is what fundamentally lifted my family and I to higher grounds. A land attributed with a bounty of love and open arms. A second family.

At the beginning of my freshman year I was instructed to create a project that lasted over the course of my high school career. It took little to no time for me to realize I wanted to work with the Herren Project. A chance to help people in situations alike mine, and stand up for something I believe in.

Yearly, I host Going Purple track meets at the PCTA in Providence, RI, helping advocate a life of sobriety while simultaneously raising awareness about the dangers of substance abuse.

I can also proudly say that this past fall I ran alongside some inspiring individuals during the CVS 5k for the Herren Project, and fundraised $1,155, the biggest blessing I could’ve asked for from everyone who donated.

In some of my most recent attempts to help those struggling from addiction, I am publishing a book composed of anonymously written letters from individuals who have had to watch a loved one battle substance abuse titled “Pens of Patrons”. The proceeds of the book will benefit the foundation, and the message will hopefully go on to inspire those in similar predicaments. That pen and paper is what kept me going at night when the drugs were screaming at me to stop. And I pray I can pass along this gift to another.

For me, Going Purple means so much more than just representing a healthy sober lifestyle. It means that through the constant awareness I spread and every dollar I raise, that I get to help another family save a life. “Wearing” purple exceeds so much further than the constraints of oneself. It emulates in a pond to every person on the circumference of its shore. Being purple is life changing. Being purple is me.


Spencer Johnson
New Fairfield HS – New Fairfield, CT
Growing up, like most kids, the phrase “clean and sober” didn’t hold any significant meaning to me. I never thought by freshman year, adding the words, “I am” to the phrase would make it my proudest accomplishment today. Six days ago, I celebrated three years of continuous sobriety. Every day, since April 21, 2013, I have been celebrating the opportunity to be a son to my parents, a brother to my siblings, and most importantly, a young person in recovery.

After Mr. Herren told his story to my high school back in 2014, I became inspired to spread awareness on adolescent drug abuse by telling my story. Independently, I started sharing my story with schools, adolescent treatment centers, and other people that currently struggle in active addiction. My heart feels for the person that thinks they are alone in this disease, so I try to speak whenever asked, and reach out to the addict that is still suffering whenever I can.

I am not alone in my activist pursuits. Sophomore year, I joined my town’s Drug Prevention Council and became my school’s Going Purple Student Representative. This position allows me to be a part of organizing different prevention and awareness based events geared toward educating the community on the effects of drug abuse. When I originally joined, it was me and a few concerned parents at a library table brainstorming different ideas. Today the council is made up of my superintendent of schools, principal, social workers, guidance counselors, numerous community members, and a number of students as well. We all work together to make things happen in my town, especially during Going Purple week. We typically dedicate at least three months worth of planning for that week and every year, Going Purple is a huge success in New Fairfield. It has been extremely fulfilling to be a part of the fight against substance abuse with my community, as well as independently.

Today, on day 1,102 of being clean, I’m proud to be purple. This movement has removed the isolation I felt as a young person in recovery. This movement has given me countless reasons to stay sober for the people still suffering when I did not want to stay clean for myself early in sobriety. I’m fortunate to live in a community that tries to carry the Project Purple Initiative. Going Purple in New Fairfield means, you are willing to be an ear to listen, a hand to hold, and a shoulder to cry on when your help is needed. It is only through this initiative that I learned, I am good enough, but WE are better than I can ever be.

Student Scholarship Winner


Isabel Hamilton
Portsmouth HS – Portsmouth, RI
The Going Purple movement came into my life when I was in middle school. It became a community thing; everyone was wearing purple, reading Hoop Dreams and watching Unguarded. During my middle school years, it was fun to dress up and have the purple merchandise while learning about this inspiring man. During my junior year of high school, I was a co-founder of an organization called Patriots Committed. We are devoted to making the best version of ourselves. I always pledged that I would keep my body healthy by abstaining from drugs and alcohol. As a group, we had the most success when we became involved with the promotion of what Going Purple means to me. This past January was the second annual purple dodge ball night, where we created a substance free event where kids could have fun and not have any pressures. Also, we reached out to local elementary and middle schools to get them involved and show that there are kids at the high school that are not involved with drugs or alcohol.

This movement has been more than something that I have become involved with. It has helped me develop my character and solidify my beliefs. Going Purple has taught me to stand up for what I feel is right and promote positive support to help people do the same. I have also been lucky to have interactions with Chris Herren. Hearing him speak about his journey and struggles enlightened me to continue to work through any hardships I face. His positive attitude and inspiring message made me believe that in anything I face, I will always be able to find light in a situation. Going Purple has not only made me want to abstain from the use of drugs and alcohol, it has made me focus on things that I feel important and how I can make them happen.