After my daughter Alisa was killed, I felt as if I were floating around in an endless black sea of emptiness. I saw no light at the end of the tunnel. When a dear friend suggested I call MADD, I replied that I could not even stand, let alone take a stand for something. Her gentle response was, “No, but maybe they can help you.” I didn’t call that day, but some time later when the grief was so intense I felt I may be going crazy, I called.
At that moment, I not only received help, I was also given hope. Annie Powell, who was our MADD Central Maryland ED and victim advocate, gently reached through that phone line and touched my heart. Her kindness provided a rainbow in my dark cloud.
This beautiful help and hope each of you, my MADD family, gives me has continued for the past 22 years. I recently saw a quote by William Bradfield that rings true for us in MADD. “There are those whose lives affect all others around them. Quietly touching one heart, who in turn, touches another. Reaching out to ends further than they would ever know.” The support we give one another other travels far beyond what we can even imagine.
Support is incredibly important, but what also heartens me through those dark days is the knowledge that my work with MADD is helping create a world where drunk driving will no longer be possible. Thanks to MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, we are inches away from making that a reality.
Each of you is my hero, my hope. So many of you honor your loved ones by working to make a difference through MADD’s mission. Others of you are with MADD not because you have personally been affected by drunk driving, but because you care so much about protecting our families. Victor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, said, “Everything precious can be taken from us, but the one thing that cannot be taken away is our power to choose what we will do with what happens to us.” You are my heroes because you have made that choice, and the road is not always easy.
The truth is that I came to MADD not out of choice, but out of necessity. Now I am here by choice. I am here both because and for Alisa. I am here because a drunk driver killed my beautiful daughter. But I am also here for her … to represent her spirit. She always helped a friend in need and never backed down from a challenge. It is for Alisa that I am with MADD today.
The end of this month I conclude my term as MADD National President. Know that I will always carry your loved ones’ names in my heart. Thank you for sharing them with me. Please know that I will also carry each of you in my heart. Thank you for being part of my family. You hearten my spirit and give me hope. You are that shining North Star that carried me out of the dark tunnel into the light. What a gift you are to me and one another. I am reaching out to touch each of your hearts with my gratitude and love as you have touched mine.