The brain is the repository of our humanity, wisdom, our ability to love, learn, create, compute, compose, contemplate, think, to remember, to feel empathy for others, to engage in justice and compassion. These natural rewards are the essence of human existence.
Drugs can suppress, surmount, indeed supplant these rewards, creating a chemical world, a world of confidence tricks played on the mind. We recognize how precious, unique and fortunate we are to be the bearers of functional minds. We are united in a passionate desire to protect the minds of our most vulnerable- the children. This is not a war on drugs: it is a defense of children’s brains.
– Dr. Bertha Madras


The SafeLaunch mission is to prevent teen exposure to alcohol and other drugs that lead to the disease of addiction. By raising awareness that 90% of addiction begins before age 18 and offering parents, youth service providers and schools resources to prevent drug exposure, we save lives and alleviate suffering.

Adolescent substance use poses a serious mental health threat, with lowered academic achievement, lost potential, damaged relationships, brain damage, addiction, and early death the unfortunate results. Addiction is a chronic brain disease that is treatable, but not curable. Statistically, only one out of ten people treated for a chemical addiction maintain their sobriety over the course of their life.

Since 90% of addiction roots in early first exposure, preventing this disease must become everyone’s priority.

SafeLaunch is focused on protecting youth from harm. By embracing current scientific evidence to inform adolescents and adults about the human brain, SafeLaunch inspires the message that prevention requires education and action… because addiction isn’t a choice.

SafeLaunch was founded by parents who believe that preventing children’s exposure to alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs is as important as preventing childhood diabetes, lead poisoning, or any other preventable disease.


Since nearly all substance use, and addiction, begins during the teenage years, prevention of any use during this time is singularly important. Lowering the substance use rates of youth today will be reflected tomorrow in lowering the adult rates of addicting drug use. The new focus on one decision by youth not to use any addicting substances, including alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs, holds great promise of a stronger, clearer and more effective goal for public education and prevention.   -Robert L. DuPont, M.D. President, Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc.,
Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse (1973-1978), White House Drug Chief (1973-1977)


SafeLaunch Parents:

  • Learn that 90% of addiction begins with adolescent exposure to drugs and alcohol, and that teens are up to 600% more susceptible to dependency than are adults.
  • Sign the Parent Pledge and do all they can to ensure that minors are protected from drug and alcohol exposure.
  • Confirm that the parents of their child’s friends have taken the Parent Pledge, and invite them to do so if they haven’t.

Flights Above Addiction

Flights Above Addiction is a flying, interactive art and aviation program where youth learn about their addiction risk, and then paint their dreams of a healthy future on a Cessna airplane at airshows and aviation events across California. Information available at

Wind Beneath Our Wings

The Wind Beneath Our Wings memorial album displays the names and stories of people who lost the battle with addiction, as told by their parents. Permanently affixed beneath the high wings of a Cessna, these names underscore our message of prevention for the families who engage with Flights Above Addiction at aviation events. Through this ongoing project, we aim to break the silence and stigma surrounding the disease of addiction. Information available at

Media $500 Contests

Media $500 Contests showcase the creative work of youth contestants, awarding students whose work best interprets the  addiction prevention theme using art, photography, songwriting, video, writing, and drama. Information available at

As one of the founders of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids 30 years ago, I have come to understand that parent-focused community organizations are key to healthy choices that we want all of our children to make for themselves. Preventing, intervening and treating substance use disorders among our kids pays enormous dividends for individual families and our nation. And Parent-focused organizations like SafeLaunch provide the leadership to help reduce the tragic and unnecessary loss of so many young lives every day.
-Tom Hedrick

The Founders

Ron Cuff is a father and a retired Navy officer living in Paso Robles, California. He served as a primary U.S. Navy flight instructor, earning the designation of Aircraft Commander on four different types of Navy aircraft, logged 120 arrested landings on seven U.S. aircraft carriers, and was a Test Pilot for the Pacific Missile Test Center. As a Naval Reservist he served as the Commanding Officer of his Naval Air Reserve unit, and simultaneously served as Deputy Director for the Navy and Marine Corps nationwide Campaign Drug Free. Ron holds a master’s degree in Business Administration. He is the past president of the San Luis Obispo Child Abuse Prevention Council. Ron’s intent is to affect a major sea change in the culture of adolescent addictive substance abuse that is damaging our national defense capability, is a breeding ground for lifelong addiction, and hinders every student’s ability to learn well and achieve success.
View Ron Cuff's LinkedIn profileView Ron’s profile

Janet Rowse is a longtime resident of Santa Barbara. She and her husband have two adult children and have owned the Paradise Cafe since 1983.  She served on the board of directors for the Santa Barbara High School Education Foundation, and was a consistent voice on elementary, secondary, and GATE parent advisory committees in the Santa Barbara Unified School District for 14 years. Janet was an advisor to the Santa Barbara County Service Learning Initiative and is a National Charity League sustaining member. With a UCSB degree in Art, she directs the use of media and art to raise public awareness. Her passion for SafeLaunch is focused on protecting children’s mental health to ensure their future success.
View Janet Rowse's LinkedIn profileView Janet’s profile

MariMari Mender R.N. has been a resident of Santa Barbara since 2000. She and her husband Dan are the parents of 5 children. While attending Arizona State University College of Nursing she began her work with the mentally ill and chemically dependent population. She graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Nursing, and has continued to work in psychiatry and mental health nursing, most recently at Santa Barbara Cottage Residential Center. She is a credentialed Medical Life Coach with emphasis on mental health clients.  Her intent is to prevent drug abuse and mental wellness through education. She believes that positive, primary prevention education is an innovative new approach to combating the plague of addiction that threatens our youth and can ruin their futures.

Executive Board

Janet Rowse, President
Ron Cuff, Secretary
Brian Rowse, Treasurer

Board of Advisors

Jeff Barry

Gillian Christie
Founder/CEO at Christie & Co

Paul Cordeiro
Superintendent, Newhall School District

Dr. Joseph Frawley, MD
Co-Founder, Recovery Road Medical Center

Trisha Geyer
Parent Advocate, Spokesperson

Rolf Geyling, MDiv
President, Santa Barbara Rescue Mission

Roderick Hare
CEO, Mission Ridge Capital
Founding Board President, Notes for Notes
Founder and Chair, Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative

John Macker
President, American Riviera Television

Rene Martinez
Loan Officer and Mortgage Consultant

Jeff McLaughlin
Documentary Filmmaker

Mari Mender, RN
SafeLaunch Co-Founder
Guardian Care Providers

Dr. Robert M. Nagy, MD

Timothy Regler
President, Timothy Regler Consulting, Inc.

Randy Rowse
Owner, Paradise Cafe
Santa Barbara City Council member

J. Brian Sarvis, Ed.D.
Superintendent Santa Barbara School Districts, Retired

Sally Schindel
Addiction Risk Educator and Prevention Advocate
Wind Beneath Our Wings, Mother

Kimberly Schizas
Vice President, Wynmark Company

Michael Schmidtchen, C.P.A.

Sharon Wilcox, MA CCC
Education Management

Jim Wolfe
Independent Marketing and Advertising Professional

To find out how you can help or become a Friend of SafeLaunch,
email or call 805-283-7233

SafeLaunch Tax ID: 46-2832792