2010 Tar Wars Winner Trumps Brother's Achievement

Colorado Student First From State to Win National Poster Contest

July 29, 2010 06:00 pm David Mitchell

Tar Wars National Poster Contest winner Jared Gorthy, of Colorado Springs, center, accompanied by his older brother Derek, mother Cheryl and father Scott, poses with Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., right, after meeting with the senator and presenting him with a copy of his winning poster.

Jared Gorthy wasn't the first member of his family to be selected a state winner in the Colorado AFP's annual Tar Wars poster contest. That honor went to his brother Derek, who won the state contest and finished seventh at the Tar Wars National Conference in 2007.

Jared, however, fared even better than his older brother and was named the winner of the AAFP initiative's 2010 national poster contest(www.tarwars.org) July 26 during the national conference in Washington, D.C.

The fifth-grader from Colorado Springs said he was motivated by his sibling's experience three years ago.

"I wanted to go to nationals, too," Gorthy told AAFP News Now. "I was trying for that. I was kind of surprised I came in first."

Cara Coxe, Tar Wars coordinator for the Colorado AFP, said the tobacco-free education program reached 15,000 children in 96 Colorado schools in 2009-2010, including the Gorthy brothers' Chipeta Elementary School.

"That's pretty great, them being from the same elementary school," Coxe said. "It shows continuing support."

Program's Reach Tops 8 Million … and Counting

Family physicians and other health care workers across the country present Tar Wars(www.tarwars.org) tobacco-free education programs to fourth- and fifth-graders in their local schools each year, discussing the toll tobacco takes on health, as well as the financial costs of tobacco use. More than 8 million children have heard the tobacco-free message since the program's inception more than two decades ago.

The program, which is supported by the AAFP Foundation(www.aafpfoundation.org), culminates each year with a national poster contest made up of submissions from state-level poster contest winners.

Tar Wars(www.tarwars.org) was developed in 1988 by current AAFP Director Jeffrey Cain, M.D., of Aurora, Colo., and Glenna Pember, of the Hall of Life at the Denver Museum of Natural History and Doctors Ought to Care.

Gorthy, however, is the first student from the Centennial State to be named the overall winner since the poster contest became a national event in 1992.

Gorthy's poster features a map of the world under a banner that says, "Be proud, say it loud …" with a child in North America saying, "I'm tobacco free!" Gorthy translated the phrase into six other languages with help from the Internet and drew children in other parts of the word saying it in their own languages.

"The languages were unique," said Pam Rodriguez, AAFP's tobacco control manager. "The judges liked that. We always want a strong, positive tobacco-free message."

Contest Winners Make the Congressional Rounds

According to Rodriguez, 26 of 35 state poster contest winners and members of their families made the trip to Washington. After an awards ceremony on July 26, the children visited members of the House and Senate from their respective states the following day, presenting their legislators with copies of their posters and Tar Wars brochures.

Gorthy, for example, met with Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., as well as with staff members from the office of Sen. Michael Bennett, D-Colo.

The children also toured the White House and the U.S. Capitol. The outing was nothing new for Gorthy, however, who made the trip to the Tar Wars National Conference -- and the White House, and the Capitol -- with his family three years ago.

Still, he said, "It's been pretty nice. I learned a lot."

As the national poster contest winner, Gorthy receives a family trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., worth as much as $3,000.

In addition to Gorthy, a number of other state-level poster contest winners were recognized during the awards ceremony.


  • Gianni Chiodo, of Des Moines, Iowa, placed second in the national poster contest;
  • Krysti Maines, of Sparta, N.C., placed third; and
  • Macy Willis, of LaGrange, Ga., placed fourth.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Lakyn Ogle, of Pleasant City, Ohio, placed fifth;
  • Rachel Majors, of Tipton, Ind., placed sixth;
  • Bryce Allen Martin, of Hinton, W.Va., placed seventh;
  • Erynn Novak, of Novi, Mich., placed eighth;
  • Ashton Curtis, of Madison, Miss., placed ninth; and
  • Claire Lin, of St. Louis, placed 10th.