I recently traveled to Little Rock to give the keynote speech at the Arkansas Underage Drinking and Injury Prevention Conference. Their theme reflected their tone: “We’re All In This Together.” Individuals from every organization dealing with these issues attended the conference – from police officers, victim advocates, as well as health officials.
Two inspiring guest speakers were Kathi Meyer Sullivan and her husband, Chris Sullivan. After a night of binge drinking and poor choices, Kathi’s 17 year old daughter, Taylor, wandered away alone in the woods and drowned in only two feet of water. Chris was an NFL football player from 1996 to 2002 and played in two Super Bowls. He went from the Super Bowl to fighting for his life and future. He battled anxiety and an addiction to drugs and alcohol that ended up taking over his life. He has been sober since Dec, 2008 and now shares his story to help others make good choices surrounding alcohol and drugs.
|Kathi Meyer Sullivan & Jan Withers|
Many MADD Arkansas staff and volunteers attended the conference. Four volunteers were guest speakers at Victim Impact Panels held during the conference. Kathy Paulette, Heather Evans, Tammy Hahn and Barbara Stillings spoke eloquently about their victimizations and why they work so hard to prevent others from suffering similar tragedies. They were so inspiring and had the audience riveted to their stories. They truly touched the hearts of everyone in the room.
|Kathy Paulette, Heather Evans, Tammy Hahn and Erin Blome|
It is always a joy to spend time with our MADD family around the country. MADD Arkansas staff and volunteers are amazing. With the leadership of Pam Sell, they have expanded their volunteer base in the past few years. During my visit they held an open house for victims/survivors, volunteers, and community partners. The reception area of their office was truly packed with guests. The room overflowed with energy, friendship and mutual respect.
I send my gratitude to MADD Arkansas for all you do, every moment of every day. You are truly making a difference.