Boy shares personal tragedy with classmates
The poem was inspired by his memory of his biological mother, a drug abuser who, at the age of 26, died of a heart attack in July 1999 from taking cocaine. Kamen was only 4 years old.
"You're supposed to be good, like a normal mom would," Kamen said, reading from the 48-line untitled work. "… But you weren't following the rule. You were being a fool."
Gathered on the school gym bleachers for an anti-drug rally, Kamen's classmates silently listened. Tears ran down the cheeks of a group of young girls. Teachers also were moved by Kamen's words.
Later, Kamen said he wasn't nervous or embarrassed to bare his soul before so many people. Mainly, he said, he was hoping the poem would benefit his classmates.
"By looking at me, I was hoping they wouldn't make the mistake my mom did," Kamen said.
Chuck and Sabrina Grubbs legally adopted Kamen when he was four years old, when his biological mother became unable to care for him, not long before her death. The courts cut off the parental rights of Kamen's biological father.
Sabrina and Chuck are pastors at Island Worship Center.
Kamen was among dozens of BMS students who took part in a poster contest as part of Red Ribbon Week - Oct. 24-30, when police and teachers combine efforts in schools all over the United States to educate children against drug abuse.
Kamen said he wrote the poem (below) because he mistakenly thought the contest was for both poems and posters. The contest actually was just for posters, but police allowed him to enter the poem as a poster anyway, and it took first place, winning Kamen a bag full of goodies including a restaurant and store coupons, a T-shirt and a bracelet.
In last year's Red Ribbon Week, Kamen won an essay contest with an essay similar to the poem he wrote this year. Both works tell the story of his mother's drug abuse and death.
Last year, he read the essay to a crowd of BMS students during Red Ribbon Week. This year, he read the poem, not just to the middle school student body, but also to an audience of a few hundred during halftime of a Red Ribbon Week basketball game between police and students at Doyle Marek Gym at Port Aransas High School on Thursday, Oct. 30.
Sabrina Grubbs said she thought her son's poem was "heartbreaking and very moving and very true and very honest about his feelings and his life." Sabrina and Chuck Grubbs said they're proud of Kamen.
"It's wonderful that he would take a portion of his life that was real and try to send the message to kids and other parents that doing drugs can cause death," Sabrina Grubbs said.
Kamen said one of his teachers, Mary Sibley, deserves thanks for encouraging him to share the poem publicly.
"He's a fine young man," said Sibley, who teaches writing. "He does have a mature side to him. That's probably why he was able to write such a deep poem and be able to recite it for the public. I know he has some very supportive parents, and I think that's part of the reason too."